1961 Happy birthday to Kieron Connolly, born in Thurles, Tipperary on this day in 1961. He is a novelist and has had several books published including Water Sign, Harold and there is a House.
* * *
1971 Liam Cosgrave was elected Taoiseach on this day in 1971. He signed the Sunningdale Agreement in an attempt to calm tensions in Northern Ireland by creating a cross-border Council of Ireland.
The move failed though, under heavy criticism from the media after violent protests and a loyalist strike.
* * *
1985 On this day in 1985, gunmen opened fire on the car carrying Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams. Mr Adams was shot in the neck and the shoulder but survived without any major injuries.
The Ulster Freedom Fighters issued the following statement hours after the attack:
“Mr Adams was responsible for the continuing murder campaign being waged against Ulster protestants and is therefore regarded as a legitimate target of war.”
Adams denied having any involvement with the IRA, and had said only six weeks earlier that he felt there was a 90% chance that he would be assassinated.
1991 On this day in 1991, the ‘Birmingham Six’ won their appeal against murder charges, and were released from prison having been locked up for 16 years.
The men, all from Northern Ireland, had been convicted of the Birmingham Pub Bombings in 1974 where 21 people were killed after explosions in two pubs. They denied any involvement but were arrested. They alleged that they were forced to confess by the police.
They were each given 21 life sentences, based on the testimony of a forensic evidence and their confessions.
Several groups were set up around the world to campaign for their release. An investigation found that the conduct of the police throughout the case had been unlawful, and the new technology available also discounted the previously used forensic evidence.
On this basis, the Six won their appeal and were released from prison. Each man received around £1m in compensation in the following years.
ITV documentary: The Birmingham Six: Their Own Story.
* * *
1995 Gerard Victory died on this day in 1995. He was a well respected and admired musician, and composed more than 200 works. Victory worked as the Director of Music for Irish television channel RTÉ for 15 years.
His most famous piece of music is possibly Symphony No 3. Watch a video of it being performed by the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra below.