July 3 - 1970 - The Falls Curfew Begins
The Troubles, the long running conflict in Northern Ireland, really began in the summer of 1969, when riots broke out after civil rights protests by Catholics. At that point, the British Army ramped up its presence in Northern Ireland to keep peace and maintain order between Protestant and Catholic paramilitary forces. By the summer of 1970, the Catholic and Nationalist Provisional Irish Republican Army began squaring off against the Protestant and Unionist Ulster Volunteer Force. So the British Army, joined by the mostly Protestant police force the Royal Ulster Constabulary, searched the Falls district of Belfast for weapons stores of the IRA. This led to small scale rioting by neighborhood residents, which was responded to by the Army with tear gassing and a call for reinforcements. That only increased the violent reaction in the area. By 10 pm that night a curfew was placed over 3,000 homes, almost all of them belonging to Catholics. A house by house sweep was undertaken in a reckless, strong arm manner. While the Army would find weapons during their search, after the curfew was lifted three days later, the everyday, working class Catholic population had turned against the British Army in Belfast and all of Northern Ireland.