Sunday 19 November 2017

State Papers 1982: A 'grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented' year in the news

Soldiers clearing ice from Grafton Street in January 1982
Soldiers clearing ice from Grafton Street in January 1982
A bus at Belgard Road navigates the drifts
The QE2 carries British troops from Southampton during the Falklands War
Malcolm Macarthur
Grace Kelly

It was a year of the worst weather in half a century, general elections, political heaves and thediscovery of a killer in the home of the Attorney General. Fergus Black looks back on events


– Ireland froze in the worst winter weather for 50 years.

– Kildare TD Charlie McCreevy was expelled from Fianna Fail's parliamentary party for criticising leader Charles Haughey.

– The Fine Gael/Labour government fell after independent TDs voted against a series of controversial measures including a tax on children's shoes.


– Corporal punishment was banned from schools.

– The DeLorean Motor Company laid off 1,100 of its 2,600 workers in Belfast.

– A minority Fianna Fail government was returned to power with Charles Haughey becoming Taoiseach

– Garda Patrick Reynolds (24) was shot dead by the INLA in Tallaght, Dublin.


– On-the-run former IRA man Gerard Tuite was arrested and became the first person to be charged in the Republic for offences committed in Britain.

– The country's first crematorium was officially opened at Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

– Independent TD Tony Gregory became a key player through the 'Gregory Deal' when, in return for supporting Charles Haughey as Taoiseach, he was guaranteed a massive £90m cash injection for his badly run-down, inner-city Dublin constituency.


– Argentine troops invaded the Falkland Islands, which they called Malvinas, and when diplomatic efforts failed, a British battle fleet sailed 8,000 miles to retake the islands. Fighting ended the following June with 255 Britons and 652 Argentinians losing their lives.

– Sinn Fein, the Workers' Party changed its name to the Workers' Party.

– Work began on the Cork-Dublin natural gas pipeline.


– The Irish Government affirmed its neutrality in the Falklands conflict – sparking a diplomatic row with Britain.

– Defence Minister Paddy Donegan criticised Britain over the controversial sinking of the Argentinian ship the Belgrano, which resulted in the loss of 323 lives.

– 20,000 people across the country marched in protest at income tax and PRSI changes.

– The DeLorean factory closed down in west Belfast.


– Israel invaded Southern Lebanon.

– RTE Radio transmitted uninterrupted, unabridged, a 30-hour dramatised performance of Joyce's novel 'Ulysses'.

– The FBI arrested four men in New York who they claim were trying to buy surface-to-air missiles on behalf of the IRA.


– An intruder broke into Buckingham Palace and entered the queen's bedroom. The queen spoke to him for 10 minutes before she was able to summon a footman when the intruder requested a cigarette.

– A box office record was set in the US when the motion picture 'ET: The Extra Terrestrial' hit movie screens.

– Nurse Bridie Gargan was murdered in the Phoenix Park by Malcolm Macarthur, pictured right, and three days later Offaly farmer Donal Dunne was also killed by Macarthur. The double killer was later arrested at the Dalkey, Co Dublin home of Attorney General Patrick Connolly.


– Although not implicated in the murders, Connolly resigned. The ensuing scandal gave rise to the phrase 'GUBU' when Taoiseach Charles Haughey described the events as "grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented".


– Princess Grace, pictured left, who was much loved for her Irish roots, died tragically following a car crash in the south of France.


– Maeve Binchy's first novel 'Light a Penny Candle' was published

– Des O'Malley resigned from government following disagreement with Charles Haughey.

– Mr Haughey emerged with a majority of 58 votes to 22 in an open ballot on Charlie McCreevy's motion of no confidence in his leadership.

– In Poland, thousands of workers at the Lenin shipyards in Gdansk went on strike.


– Former Labour Party leader Michael O'Leary joined Fine Gael.

– The government lost a confidence motion in the Dail by 82 votes to 80 and President Hillery dissolved the 23rd Dail.

– The country faced its third election in 18 months with Fine Gael and Labour returned to power.

– In Russia, Leonid Brezhnev, general secretary of the Communist Party, died of a heart attack aged 75.

– Michael Jackson released 'Thriller', the biggest selling album of all time.


– Dublin's Grafton Street officially opened as a pedestrianised street.

– Patrick Hillery began his second term as president.

– The INLA killed 17 people in a bomb attack at the Droppin Well Inn in Ballykelly, Co Derry.

– Garret FitzGerald became the new Taoiseach at the 24th Dail.

Irish Independent

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