The Falls Curfew….

It only lasted for a single weekend in July 1970, but it had a lasting (and catastrophic) effect on relations between the Falls Road and the British army. This five minutes of raw footage taken whilst journalists were shown around the eerily quiet streets of the Falls, is weirdly evocative of the chill that subsequently descended on the area…Here’s the CAIN archive for the week leading up to the Curfew:

Friday 26 June 1970

Bernadette Devlin, Member of Parliament (MP), was arrested and jailed for six months for riotous behaviour during the ‘Battle of the Bogside’. There was rioting between the British Army and local residents in Derry following the news of the arrest. The riots spread to Belfast.

Saturday 27 June 1970
There was serious rioting in Belfast involving Protestants and Catholics. During the evening groups of Loyalist rioters began to make incursions into the Catholic Short Strand enclave of east Belfast. Catholics in the area believed that they were going to be burnt out of their homes and claimed that there were no British Army troops on the streets to protect the area. Members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) took up sniping positions in the grounds of St Matthew’s Catholic Church and engaged in a prolonged gun battle with the Loyalists. This was the most significant IRA operation to date. Across Belfast seven people were killed of whom five were Protestants shot by the IRA.

Sunday 28 June 1970
Around 500 Catholic workers at the Harland and Wolff shipyard were forced to leave their work by Protestant employees. Most of the Catholic workers were unable to return and lost their jobs. Serious rioting continued in Belfast.

Wednesday 1 July 1970
Reginald Maudling, then Home Secretary, paid a visit to Northern Ireland. [As he boarded the flight out of Northern Ireland again he was reported to have said: “For God’s sake bring me a large Scotch. What a bloody awful country!”.]
The Criminal Justice (Temporary Provisions) Act was passed by the Stormont government introducing a mandatory prison sentence of six months for rioting.

Thursday 2 July 1970
Neil Blaney was found not guilty of illegal arms importation by a Dublin jury. The ‘Arms Trial’ had begun on 28 May 1970. [The case against Charles Haughey continued until 23 October 1970.]
The Prevention of Incitement to Hatred Act (Northern Ireland) was introduced. [It proved difficult to secure convictions under the provisions of the Act and it was seldom enforced.]

Friday 3 July 1970
Falls Road Curfew
Beginning in the afternoon, the British Army carried out extensive house searches in the Falls Road area of Belfast for members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and IRA arms. A military curfew was imposed on the area for a period of 34 hours with movement of people heavily restricted. The house searches lasted for two days and involved considerable destruction to many houses and their contents. During the searches the army uncovered a lot of illegal arms and explosives. However the manner in which the searches were conducted broke any remaining goodwill between the Catholic community and the British Army. During the period of the curfew there were gun battles between both wings of the IRA and the Army. Four people were killed in the violence one of them deliberately run over by an Army vehicle.

Saturday 4 July 1970
The Falls Road curfew continued throughout the day.

Sunday 5 July 1970
At approximately nine in the morning the Falls Road curfew was lifted. [It was later reported that two Unionist ministers, William Long and John Brooke, had been driven through the area in British Army vehicles.]

It was the discovery of an arms find that triggered the wider action. Ed Moloney remarks in his classic analysis of the IRA:

“The puzzling question, though, was why the military had acted on the intelligence. The arms dump belonged to the Official IRA, the Provisionals rivals, and the area was at the time largely sympathetic to the Goulding faction. Although forced by events into a more militant pose, the Official IRA was not spoiling for a fight with British troops. The arms raid risked forcing the Officials into retaliation but did the Provisionals no harm at all. If the British were unable to distinguish between the two IRAs, as some observers have suggested, then they made a monumental blunder, for it was the Provisionals who gained most from the ensuing events.”

  • George Gay

    Isn’t it amazing that just as the late Maire Drumm and other patriots were organising the lifting of the Falls curfew, the Greybeards were already plotting today’s sellout, and the assassination of Ms Drumm?

  • hear hear

    Exactly. The likes of true patriots such as Maire were set up for execution by Provo traitors who supposedly believed in a ‘free’ Ireland. Today 5000 Brit troops remain stationed in the six counties and MI5 digs in in County Down, at its biggest base EVER outside London. FOR SHAME.

  • Sean

    LOL you two are a hoot

    the army is effetively gone and they will never return!

    Britin can no longer afford to go it lone against world wide public opinion and public opinion will never allow the return of 1970. the army as a force of imperil oppresio in northern Ireland is over and done!

    if you think the provos prospered under the last imperil invasion you will think it was a small dust up in the local prking lot if they were ever to try it again

    especially with the mericans spouting their democracy shit all over the world, they can hardly let it go on in their friends bck yard if they wont let it hppen in Iraq.

    I don’t know if there will ever be united Ireland but I do know that the army will never be clled into stopping it

  • Sean

    gees my “A” key was stuck so just add them in as needed

  • McGrath

    Sunday 28 June 1970
    Around 500 Catholic workers at the Harland and Wolff shipyard were forced to leave their work by Protestant employees. Most of the Catholic workers were unable to return and lost their jobs. Serious rioting continued in Belfast.

    Blog that?

  • George Gay

    Sean: You Provo types are, 3000 deaths later, the laugh. The Union Jack still flies, the Queen’s writ still runs and SFIRA call in the RUC to police South Armagh and the Murph. The IRA were beaten and betrayed.

  • I Wonder

    I don’t think there is any evidence whatsoever that Maire Drumm’s murder was “set-up” by any of her colleagues. Put up or shut up.

  • George Gay

    No evidence Stakekinife, Donaldson and McGuinness were touts either. Maire Drumkm was an uncompromising Republican. And all Rewpublicans were dealt with. Show me any who have not wonderboy.
    The Union Jack flies over Divis, the peelers rule Cross, the RIRA rot in prison, the gay movement rule Derry. McGuinness is Paisley’s gopher deputy.

    The Provo quislings prattle on here about next time it will be different and bigger. There will be no next time. Game, set, match to the forces of the Crown. Crime pays.

  • George I get the impression you aren’t really hear for serious debate, just a number of inflamatory comments which you can’t or won’t provide evidence to back up.

    In short I think you either have someones hand up your ass (Sockpuppet) or there is a bridge with no inhabitant below it (Troll), possibly both. I may get yellow cared for this but I have a firm policy of calling a spade a spade and in this case a hatfucker a hatfucker.

  • Mick Fealty

    I won’t yellow card you Pounder (yet), but pack it in!

    GG may well be a sockpuppet/troll. Indeed we have been having some trouble with one gentleman who’s been quietly barred under several names recently.

    If it is, then some of what he is saying here is strangely at odds with his previous pronouncements under various of his other chosen nom de guerres.

  • Does your set up here allow you to IP ban a person? As an admin on other BBS’s I’ve had quite a lot of experience in dealing with neagtive influences.