News: Irish Advance Halted at Dungiven

6th February 1989: RTÉ News reported that fierce fighting had occurred as Irish Defence Forces advanced east as part of a plan to establish a safezone outside of Derry.

The reality of the situation was that Taoiseach Charles Haughey had decided to take advantage of the situation in Britain to seize the Ulster and reunite Ireland. Claiming that the invasion was a peacekeeping mission was a smokescreen that few believed, especially as the Irish Army became embroiled in fierce fighting in the days following the relatively bloodless capture of Londonderry.

The Irish forces were keen to seize Dungiven, a strategically important town on the route to Belfast. The 2 Cavalry Squadron supported by the 5 Infantry Battalion and 65 Reserve Infantry Battalion moved up from Strabane having crossed the border with the 1 Cavalry Squadron and 27 Infantry Battalion advancing from Derry.

Three Battalions of the Ulster Defence Regiment; the 5th (Londonderry), 8th (Tyrone) and 7th/10th (Belfast), dug in in the rough countryside around the town and fought off a number of attacks by the Irish forces attempting to seize control of the A6 main road that would facilitate an advance on Belfast.

Despite the Irish Cavalry Squadrons employing Panhard AML armoured cars, the UDR, utlising Carl Gustav recoilless rifles were able to thwart the Irish plans.


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