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Reeling in the Years

The Seventies: 1979

Reeling in the Years

Vietnamese 'boat people' continue to flee their country. Desperate to escape poverty and persecution, they face danger and possible death on the open sea. Ireland is one of many Western countries to accept refugees. The government sets up a resettlement programme.

Despite strong U.S. support, the Shah of Iran is ousted from power. Ayatollah Khomeini returns after fourteen years in exile. Iran becomes an Islamic republic. Amid a storm of anti-American protests, Muslim militants take dozens of people hostage at the U.S. Embassy.

Pope John Paul II arrives on a three-day visit to Ireland. Over one million people attend a Papal Mass in the Phoenix Park in Dublin. In Drogheda, the Pope delivers a major address.

Bishop Eamonn Casey rallies a crowd of young people in Galway. The Pope also visits Clonmacnois, Knock, Maynooth and Limerick.

1979 is the worst year ever for industrial disputes in Ireland. The Army gets called in during a nationwide bus strike. A national postal strike lasts for over four months.

PAYE workers demand radical changes to Ireland's tax system. They earn 67% of the national income - but pay 87% of the State's income tax.

On 20 March, an estimated 200,000 people protest across Ireland.

Industrial disputes cost the economy over 1,460,000 working days this year.

Gay Byrne gets a surprise on the 500th 'Late Late Show'. The interviewer is interviewed by Eamonn Andrews.

At Bantry Bay on 8 January, an explosion destroys the oil tanker 'Betelguese' at Whiddy Island. Fifty people die.

MULLAGHMORE, CO. SLIGO 27 August: Lord Louis Mountbatten's fishing boat is blown up by the IRA. 79-year-old Lord Mountbatten dies instantly. The IRA bomb also kills 82-year-old Lady Brabourne and two teenagers. On the same day, at Warrenpoint in Co. Down, 18 British soldiers die in another IRA bomb.

CAMBODIA (KAMPUCHEA): Four years ago, the fanatical Khmer Rouge took power. It was 'Year Zero' - a brutal new beginning for Cambodia. In 1979, invading Vietnamese forces reveal the horror of Pol Pot's regime.

Millions have died in the biggest genocide since the Nazi holocaust. Pol Pot's evil has brought mass graves, torture, forced labour and starvation.

Cambodia's people now face further misery and death, as international political rows delay the delivery of vital aid.

Eamon Dunphy and John Giles set up an apprentice scheme at Shamrock Rovers. They plan to give young Irish players better education and training.

Dubliner Eamonn Coghlan breaks the world indoor mile record. He clocks 3 minutes 52.6 seconds at a race in San Diego.

Kilkenny are the 1979 All-Ireland hurling champions. They beat Galway 2-12 to 1-8. Kerry beat Dublin 3-13 to 1-8 in the football. It is Kerry's second All-Ireland title in a row.

The ruling Fianna Fail party suffers badly at the polls this year. Two lost by-elections in Cork and poor results in the first direct European elections add to the pressure on leader Jack Lynch. There is also increasing public discontent over industrial disputes.

Jack Lynch resigns after 13 years as leader of Fianna Fail. Although George Colley is the leadership's preferred choice, Charles Haughey is elected by 44 votes to 38. Nine years after the Arms Crisis , Haughey is Taoiseach and leader of Fianna Fail.

Britain also gets a new Prime Minister this year. Margaret Thatcher leads the Tories to general election victory.


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