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'Bloody Friday', Belfast Friday 21 July 1972
- Background Events
Page Compiled: Martin Melaugh
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Background events to 'Bloody Friday'
The Provisional IRA ceasefire and the Secret Talks
On Monday 26 June 1972 the Provisional
Irish Republican Army (IRA) called a "bi-lateral truce".
The move was made as a prelude to secret talks with the British
Government. The ceasefire was made possible when John Hume and
Paddy Devlin, both members of the Social Democratic and Labour
Party (SDLP), held a meeting with representatives of the IRA in
Derry on Wednesday 14 June 1972. At that meeting the IRA representatives
outlined their conditions for talks with the British Government.
The conditions were that: there should be no restriction on
who represented the IRA; there should be an independent witness
at the meeting; the meeting should not be held at Stormont; and
political status should be granted to republican prisoners.
The following day, Thursday 15 June
1972, the SDLP representatives met William Whitelaw, then Secretary
of State for Northern Ireland, in London and presented the IRA
conditions. Whitelaw accepted the proposal and the IRA made an
announcement about the proposed ceasefire on Thursday 22 June
On Friday 7 July 1972 Gerry Adams, who
had been released from detention for the purpose, was part of
a delegation to London for talks with the Conservative British
Government of Edward Heath. The IRA delegation held direct talks
with Whitelaw and other Northern Ireland Office (NIO) ministers in the
Chelsea home of Mr Paul Channon, then Minister of State for the
The talks failed and the breakdown in
the IRA ceasefire finally occurred because of a dispute over the
allocation of houses in the Suffolk area and the IRA and British
army became involved in gun battles in Horn Drive. The 'Bloody
Friday' bombings were part of a decision by the IRA to step up
its campaign with a view to trying to bring ordinary life in the
city to an end.