1991: Gulf War, Imma opens, Freddie Mercury RIP

The year that was: Birmingham Six freed, Beef Tribunal, Morrison visas launched

President Mary Robinson with Cardinal Cathal Daly at Áras an Uachtaráin in July 1991. Photograph: Frank Miller

President Mary Robinson with Cardinal Cathal Daly at Áras an Uachtaráin in July 1991. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

January 13th: Soviet troops storm a television centre in Vilnius in a crackdown on Lithuania’s declarations of independence. By the end of the year, the Soviet Union will have been formally dissolved and replaced by 15 independent states.

January 16th: The Gulf War begins, following Saddam Hussein’s refusal to comply with a UN order to pull Iraqi troops out of Kuwait. After intense air and land attacks by the Allies, US president George Bush Snr declares victory on February 24th.

February 7th: The IRA launches a mortar attack on 10 Downing Street, where British prime minister John Major is holding a meeting. No one is seriously injured.

February 20th: Award-winning author Sally Rooney is born in Castlebar, Co Mayo.

February 26th: The Dublin Circuit Court rejects an appeal from the Irish Family Planning Association over its conviction for selling condoms without a licence at the Virgin Megastore. U2 pays the £500 fine.

Thom McGinty aka the Diceman dressed as Cupid in a newsagent’s shop in Grafton Street, Dublin, in February 1991. Photograph: Frank Miller
Thom McGinty aka the Diceman dressed as Cupid in a newsagent’s shop in Grafton Street, Dublin, in February 1991. Photograph: Frank Miller

March 14th: The Birmingham Six are freed after the Court of Appeal quashes their wrongful convictions for the murder of 21 people in the 1974 pub bombings. The Maguire Seven will have their convictions quashed three months later.

March 22nd: President Mary Robinson meets Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama during his tour of Europe, despite opposition from taoiseach Charlie Haughey, and the Chinese government.

March 25: Dances with Wolves wins the Oscar for best picture.

May 13th: A World in Action investigation by Susan O’Keeffe into allegations of malpractices in the Irish beef processing industry is aired, leading to the establishment of the Beef tribunal.

May 25th: The Irish Museum of Modern Art is officially opened at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham.

June 17th: The act requiring racial classification of all South Africans at birth is repealed in another step on the way to dismantling the country’s apartheid system.

July 22nd: Jeffrey Dahmer is arrested at his home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin after police find human remains. He confesses to murdering 17 men and boys.

August 6th: The world’s first website is launched by Tim Berners-Lee at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, CERN. It contains information about the World Wide Web project.

August 8th: British journalist John McCarthy is freed from captivity in Beirut after more than five years. His cell-mate Brian Keenan was freed a year earlier.

September 1st: Tipperary are All-Ireland hurling champions, having beaten Kilkenny by a goal and a point. Two weeks later, Down win the All-Ireland football final after beating Meath by two points.

October 14: Some 63 per cent of voters polled by The Irish Times/MRBI say Charles Haughey should resign, following a string of controversies involving Telecom Éireann, Greencore, Carysfort College and others.

October 14th: Applications open for the US Morrison visa scheme which sets aside 48,000 places for Irish people. It comes at a time when the Irish unemployment rate is at 20 per cent.

November 5th: The body of newspaper publisher Robert Maxwell is found at sea near Tenerife, after he had been cruising on the Lady Ghislaine yacht.

November 9th: Charlie Haughey survives a leadership challenge from the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party. He has already sacked Albert Reynolds and Pádraig Flynn for declaring their support for the no-confidence motion.

November 24th: Freddie Mercury, Queen’s lead singer, dies in London, aged 45, shortly after announcing that he has Aids.

December 31st: Bryan Adams’s (Everything I Do) I Do it for You is the year’s most popular song, having held the number one position in Ireland from July 4th to September 12th.