This Northern Ireland timeline lists significant dates and events during the Troubles, as well as significant background events and incidents post-1998. This timeline focuses on political developments and includes significant acts of paramilitary violence or terrorism. For a more detailed timeline of political violence and deaths during the Troubles, visit this page.
St Patrick brings Christianity to Ireland, having arrived there as a slave.
Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster, is overthrown by Turlogh O’Connor and requests the aid of the English king, Henry II, whose soldiers assist MacMurrough and are given land in return.
Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke, becomes King of Leinster. English Barons begin to claim Irish land.
English authority in Ireland is confined to an area in the South, around present-day Dublin. The English regard this area, known as ‘The Pale’, to be civilised; those outside it are considered barbarians. This gives rise to the saying ‘beyond the pale’.
Seven years after an English invasion, Henry VIII is declared King of Ireland and begins sending Protestant settlers to the country.
In Tudor England, Queen Mary I initiates the plantation program, taking land from the Irish and giving it to English settlers.
James I continues the acquisition of plantations following revolts against English rule in the 16th century. The result is a Protestant majority in the northern region of Ireland.
The beginning of the Irish Rebellion of 1641, initiated by powerful Catholics against English rule in Ireland. Approximately 100 Protestant Settlers are massacred in Portadown, County Armagh.
Oliver Cromwell’s Protestant troops massacre Irish Catholics at Wexford and Drogheda in a violent campaign to punish Catholics for the events of 1641.
James II is crowned king of England and Ireland. A devout Catholic, he begins repealing Ireland’s anti-Catholic legislation.
The Battle of the Boyne: the forces of James II are defeated by the Protestant William of Orange near what is now Drogheda. He becomes King William III of England and Ireland, while the Protestants in Northern Ireland regale him as a hero. Within ten years more than four-fifths of Ireland will be in the hand of Protestant nobility.
The beginning of the ‘Protestant Ascendancy’ and the Penal Laws, which discriminate heavily against Ireland’s Catholic population. A Catholic man, for example, is entitled to leave a will distributing land amongst his sons, but if one son is Protestant then he is legally entitled to claim the entire estate. Catholics are also unable to enlist in the army, enter the judiciary or vote.
The British and Irish parliaments pass the Acts of Union is passed. The Irish parliament is formally abolished and Ireland is instead represented in the British parliament. This triggers revolts and violence in Ireland, particularly among the lower classes.
The beginning of the Great Famine, a seven-year long period of crop failures, food shortages and widespread starvation. More than 1.5 million Irish starve to death, the majority of them poor Catholic tenant-farmers. The famine is caused by crop disease but its effects are exacerbated by land policies imposed by English and Anglo-Irish Protestant rulers.
April: The first Home Rule Bill is tabled in the British parliament, proposing the establishment of a government in Dublin with authority over Irish trade and affairs. The bill does not pass but it stirs a campaign for Home Rule.
April: A second Home Rule Bill is introduced and debated in the British parliament but does not pass the House of Lords.
November: The political party Sinn Fein (‘We Ourselves’) is formed to lobby for Irish self government.
April: The British prime minister, Herbert Asquith, introduces a third Home Rule Bill into the British parliament. The bill is passed the following year, after a lengthy series of debates and amendments. Loyalists in Ireland’s north-east oppose Home Rule, believing it will lead to a Catholic-dominated government.
April: A show of force in Belfast as 100,000 Ulster Volunteers parade before Unionist leaders Sir Edward Carson and Bonar Law.
September 28th: In Belfast more than 470,000 Unionists protest against the Home Rule Bill by signing the Ulster Covenant, some using their own blood.
January 13th: The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) is formally created.
August: The outbreak of World War I. Britain’s commitment to the war leads to the delay of Home Rule in Ireland. Concerned about growing political opposition, paramilitary activity and unrest in the north-east, the British government considers partitioning Ireland.
April: The Easter Rising in Dublin. The Irish Republican Brotherhood and Irish Citizen Army seize control of the city and declare an independent Irish republic. The uprising is put down by the British Army and the rebel leaders are swiftly executed. The Irish Republican Army is formed in the wake of this rising.
April: The British begin an attempt to introduce conscription in Ireland. The move is unpopular and contributes to the growth and rising popularity of Sinn Fein, which wins 73 seats in the 1918 election.
January: Sinn Fein announces that its members will not take up their seats in the British parliament. Instead, Sinn Fein proclaims an Irish Declaration of Independence and sets up a republican parliament in Dublin. The IRA launches a campaign of violence against British security forces in Ireland, marking the start of the Irish War of Independence.
November 21st: The first ‘Bloody Sunday’. In retaliation for the murder of British agents by the IRA, British soldiers open fire at a Gaelic football game, killing 12 people. Violence escalates across Ireland and large areas of Cork are set on fire.
December 23rd: The British parliament passes the Government of Ireland Act which introduces Home Rule but also partitions Ireland into two separate entities. The act establishes two parliaments: one in Dublin to govern the south (the Irish Free State) and one in Belfast for the six Ulster counties.
June: The end of the Irish War of Independence. British forces in Ireland begin to demobilise and withdraw, leaving military stations to the Irish Volunteers. The group splits based on support for the partition and tension between the Free State troops and the ‘Irregulars’ escalates. Dublin ratifies the Government of Ireland Act and the partition of Ireland is confirmed. The north remains under the rule of the United Kingdom and instantly civil war breaks out in Northern Ireland.
January 15th: The IRA declares war on Britain and begins a bombing campaign in England. Over the next 14 months the IRA conducts more than 50 bombings in England, most targeting government buildings, utilities and transport infrastructure. Seven people are killed in this attacks and almost 100 people injured.
July 1st: The Irish Free State passes a constitution that removes most of the nation’s obligations to Britain.
December 21st: The Irish parliament passes the Republic of Ireland Act, which formalises and completes Ireland’s transition to a republic. Northern Ireland remains part of Great Britain.
May 21st: The Ulster Volunteer Force declares war on the IRA, amid growing tensions between Nationalist and Unionist groups.
June 20th: Stormont MP Austin Currie begins a sit-in at a house in County Tyrone to protest against the discrimination against Catholics that exists in Northern Ireland. The protest is peaceful and the event is broken up by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).
February 1st: The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) is officially formed.
December 11th: Northern Ireland prime minister Terence O’Neill meets the Republic of Ireland taoiseach, Jack Lynch, at Stormont. The meeting sparks outrage from several Loyalist groups.
June 20th: RUC officers eject squatters from a house in Caledon, County Tyrone. They had been occupying the house in protest against its allocation to a single Protestant woman ahead of several Catholic families.
August 24th: NICRA organises a protest march in County Tyrone, however it is abandoned when marchers are confronted by a Loyalist demonstration.
October 5th: The RUC attempts to disperse a civil rights march in Derry, leading to riots and heavy handed police action. This event is often seen as the starting point for the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
November 22nd: O’Neill’s Northern Ireland government announces a package of reforms that address some of problems raised by NICRA.
December 9th: Terence O’Neill addresses the country on television and appeals for calm.
January 4th: A People’s Democracy March ends at Burntollet Bridge, with the RUC standing by as Loyalists attack marchers.
February 24th: Elections for the Northern Ireland parliament produce no change in government and no clear position for or against reform.
March: Loyalist paramilitaries begin a two-month bombing campaign against infrastructure, mainly water and electricity facilities, across Northern Ireland.
April 17th: A prominent People’s Democracy member, Bernadette Devlin, is elected to the British parliament. At 21 she is the youngest female MP in British history.
April 28th: Following a inconclusive result in the general election, coupled with further paramilitary violence during the civil rights campaign, Terence O’Neill resigns as the prime minister of Northern Ireland. He is replaced by Major James Chichester-Clark.
July 14th: A 67-year-old Catholic civilian, Francis McCloskey, dies after being struck by RUC batons in Dungiven. His death is considered by many to be the first of the Troubles.
August 12-14th: A Nationalist protest against an Apprentice Boys march in Derry leads to riots in Bogside, a Catholic residential area. Police use CS gas against rioters and by August 14th the B-Specials, a predominately Protestant auxiliary force, were called in to assist. Riots break out across Northern Ireland in response to the events in Derry and James Chichester-Clark requests assistance from Britain.
August 14th: The Prince of Wales Regiment arrives to disperse the rioters, marking the start of Operation Banner. British soldiers are greeted eagerly by local Catholics who see them as neutrals. British forces will remain in Northern Ireland for more than three decades.
October 11th: Three people are killed during unrest in Shankill, a Loyalist area of Belfast. One of them is a RUC officer, the first of more than 300 do die during the Troubles.
December: Disagreements over political and paramilitary tactics leads to a split in the IRA and the formation of the Provisional Irish Republican Army.
March 31st: An Orange Order parade triggers three days of rioting and violence in Belfast. Dozens of police and civilians are injured.
June 24th: Nationalist MP Bernadette Devlin is arrested after losing an appeal against a conviction stemming from the Bogside riots in 1969.
June 25th: Devlin’s arrest sparks three days of unrest and rioting in Derry and Belfast. Loyalist and Republican paramilitaries exchange gunfire, leading to the deaths of seven people.
July 3rd: Following the deaths of four Protestants in a gun battle in Belfast, 3000 British soldiers lock down the Falls Road area of Belfast for three days, while they conduct a door to door search for weapons. The Official IRA responds by ordering attacks on British soldiers. The end result is the death of five civilians.
August: The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), a significant Nationalist political party, is formed by seven breakaway MPs from other parties.
August 2nd: Security forces in Northern Ireland use rubber bullets for the first time when suppressing rioters in Belfast.
February 6th: Robert Curtis becomes the first on-duty British soldier to be killed in Northern Ireland. Most believe he was a victim of Billy Reid, a Provisional IRA volunteer.
March 9th: Three Scottish soldiers are are kidnapped and killed outside Belfast by the Provisional IRA, the first multiple fatality attack on British soldiers.
March 10th: Several thousand Loyalist workers march in Belfast, demanding the internment of Republican terrorists.
March 23rd: Brian Faulkner becomes the prime minister of Northern Ireland, replacing James Chichester-Clark.
July 8th: SDLP members withdraw from Stormont following the death of two Catholic civilians in Derry.
August 9th: The British commence Operation Demetrius. Army raids lead to the arrest and internment of 342 people, most of them Catholics, because of suspected links to paramilitary groups. During the three day operation 24 people were killed: 14 Catholic civilians, six Protestant civilians, two British soldiers and two Provisional IRA volunteers.
September: The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) is formed by Northern Ireland Loyalists.
December 4th: In Belfast, McGurk’s Bar is bombed by the UVF, killing 15 people and wounding 18 others. The bar is owned by Catholics and located in a Catholic area.
January 30th: British paratroopers open fire during a civil rights protest in Derry, killing 14 civilians. The British Army claims that the shootings were justified, however Nationalists dub this event ‘Bloody Sunday’ and begin a long struggle to have it recognised as a massacre rather than a defensive action.
February 2nd: Funerals are held for 11 people killed on Bloody Sunday. It triggers political protests and demonstrations across Ireland. In Dublin more than 30,000 people march on the British embassy carrying coffins, before hurling petrol bombs and burning the embassy building to the ground.
February 22nd: The Official IRA bombs Aldershot Barracks on the British mainland, in retaliation for Bloody Sunday. Seven are killed, including a Catholic priest.
March 20th: The Provisional IRA detonates its first car bomb, killing seven people and injuring 148 in Belfast.
March 30th: The British government introduces Direct Rule, dissolving both the Northern Ireland executive and parliament.
April 14th: The Provisional IRA detonate 24 bombs in various locations around Northern Ireland.
April 22nd: An 11-year-old boy, Francis Rowntree, becomes the first of 17 people to die from rubber bullets during the Troubles.
May 13th: Seven people are killed during two days of gunfights in Springmartin, Belfast.
May 29th: The Official IRA declares a ceasefire, however the Provisional IRA promises an escalation in its military actions against British and Loyalist targets.
June 15th: William Whitelaw, the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, grants Special Category Status to Irish paramilitary prisoners in British prisons.
July: Violence continues between British Army personnel and Provisional IRA volunteers. Multiple civilians and members of paramilitaries and the army die in gun battles across Northern Ireland, mainly in Belfast.
July 7th: During a brief ceasefire, IRA representatives meet for secret talks with William Whitelaw in London but no agreement is reached.
July 21st: ‘Bloody Friday’: the Provisional IRA detonates 22 explosive devices around Belfast, killing nine people.
July 31st: The British Army launches Operation Motorman, invading barricaded areas under Provisional IRA control in multiple cities across Northern Ireland. More than 12,000 British soldiers participate in Motorman, which results in the deaths of four people in Derry, including a 15-year-old boy who had gone to watch the British tanks.
July 31st: In Claudy, nine people are killed by three car bombs. It is unclear which group was responsible for this bombing.
September 25th: The British government convenes a conference in Darlington on political solutions for Northern Ireland. The outcome is a discussion paper and a proposed power-sharing government.
January 1st: Both Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland join the European Union, a move that later leads to relaxed border controls between the Republic and Northern Ireland.
January 5th: Two men are arrested on suspicion of murder and become the first Loyalist internees of the Troubles.
February 7th: A Loyalist umbrella group, the United Loyalist Council, organises a one-day general strike and shutdown of business in Northern Ireland cities. Four people are killed in the resulting violence.
March 1st: A general election in the Republic of Ireland leads to a change of government, which Liam Cosgrave replacing Jack Lynch as Taoiseach.
March 8th: The Provisional IRA plants four car bombs in London, marking the start of its bombing campaign on the British mainland. Two of the bombs explode, killing one person and injuring 200 others.
March 28th: The Republic of Ireland’s navy intercepts a ship, Claudia, near Waterford. It is found to contain five tonnes of Libyan-supplied weapons and munitions, destined for the Provisional IRA.
May 3rd: The British parliament passes the Northern Ireland Assembly Act, an attempt to restore the government at Stormont and bring an end to Direct Rule.
May 14th: Martin McGuinness is released from prison in the Republic of Ireland, after serving six months for transporting arms and explosives for the Provisional IRA.
May 17th: A Provisional IRA booby trap in Omagh kills five British soldiers.
May 30th: Council elections are held in Northern Ireland, using proportional representation for the first time in almost 45 years.
June 28th: Elections are held for a new Northern Ireland assembly. The elections are supported by a majority of Unionists and the nationalist SDLP but are boycotted by Republicans.
December 9th: The Sunningdale Agreement, an attempt to create a power-sharing government in Northern Ireland, is signed in Berkshire, England.
January 4th: Unionists reject the Sunningdale Agreement and Brian Faulkner resigns as UUP leader three days later.
February 4th: A coach carrying British army personnel and families is bombed by the Provisional IRA as it travels on the M62 near Yorkshire. Twelve people are killed.
February 28th: British elections return a minority Labour Party government under Harold Wilson. Unionists opposed to the Sunningdale Agreement win 11 of the 12 Northern Ireland seats in the Westminster parliament.
May 14th: The Ulster Workers’ Council (UWC) calls for an indefinite general strike in protest against the Sunningdale power-sharing government.
May 28th: Loyalist strikes and paramilitary operations cause the collapse of the Sunningdale Agreement. Brian Faulkner resigns as Northern Ireland prime minister and London reintroduces Direct Rule.
October 5th: The Provisional IRA bombs two pubs in Guildford, England, killing five, including four soldiers. Five innocent people are later convicted and imprisoned for carrying out this bombing.
November 21st: Two pubs in Birmingham, England are bombed, causing 21 deaths. A small splinter group claims responsibility but most consider the Birmingham pub bombings to be the work of the Provisional IRA. Six innocent people are convicted and imprisoned for these bombings.
November 29th: Britain introduces the Prevention of Terrorism Act, allowing suspects to be detained for a week without charge.
December 8th: The Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) is formed following a split in Sinn Fein. A paramilitary wing, the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), is founded in the Republic of Ireland the following year.
December 20th: The Provisional IRA declares a ceasefire over the Christmas and New Year period. This ceasefire eventually extends into the middle of 1975.
February 10th: Infighting erupts between the Official IRA and the INLA. Unionists face the same internecine violence in March when the UVF and UDA begin fighting.
July 17th: Members of the Provisional IRA in Armagh break the ceasefire and detonate a bomb near Forkhill, killing four British soldiers.
July 31st: In County Down the UVF ambushes and murders three members of the Miami Showband, a musical group from the Republic of Ireland.
September 1st: IRA gunmen attack an Orange Hall in Newtownhamilton, County Armagh, killing four people.
October: Four young Irish people, including Gerard Conlon and Paul Hill, are tried and convicted for the Guildford pub bombings in October the previous year.
November 4th: The Northern Ireland secretary, Merlyn Rees, announces that Special Category Status will not be granted to Irish paramilitary prisoners from March 1976.
November 25th: The Shankill Butchers, a Loyalist death squad, carries out their first killing in Belfast. The gang randomly targets Catholics, abducting, beating, torturing and murdering at least two dozen people.
January 4th: UVF gunmen attack two Catholic homes in County Armagh, killing six people from the Reavey and O’Dowd families.
January 5th: The South Armagh Republican Action Force, a splinter group of the Provisional IRA, guns down 11 Protestant workers in Kingsmill, killing all but one.
March: Special Category Status no longer applies to Republican and Loyalist paramilitaries in British prisons. They are treated as criminals rather than political prisoners.
March: The Maguire Seven are tried and convicted for their alleged involvement in the October 1974 Guildford pub bombings. All serve sentences of between four and 14 years but are cleared in 1991.
July 21st: Britain’s ambassador to Ireland, Christopher Ewart Biggs, and his secretary, Judith Cook, are assassinated by a Provisional IRA land mine planted outside Biggs’ Dublin residence.
August 10th: British troops shoot and kill a Provisional IRA volunteer, Danny Lennon, as he drives in Belfast. The car careens out of control and kills three children walking with their mother. The children’s aunt, Mairead Corrigan, and another local woman, Betty Williams, gather a 6000-signature peace petition. They later form two groups, Women for Peace and Community for Peace People.
September 2nd: The European Commission of Human Rights declares that interrogation methods used against internees are in breach of human rights conventions.
September 15th: The Blanket Protest begins in HM Prison Maze, when Provisional IRA volunteer Kieran Nugent is denied Special Category Status and refuses to wear a prison uniform, donning a blanket instead.
November 27th: In London more than 30,000 people attend a Northern Ireland peace rally.
May 3rd: A Loyalist union group led by Ian Paisley demands a return to self government in Northern Ireland. It organises a general strike that is abandoned ten days later.
October 10th: Mairead Corrigan and Betty Williams, founders of the Peace People, are declared the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize.
February 17th: A Provisional IRA fire bomb explodes at the La Mon House Hotel in County Down, killing 12 people and injuring 24.
April 19th: Northern Ireland’s representation in the Westminster parliament is increased from 16 to 18 seats.
November 14-19th: PIRA launch a bombing attack across Northern Ireland, detonating over fifty bombs and injuring thirty-seven.
February 20th: Eleven members of the notorious Shankill Butchers, a pro-Loyalist death squad, are convicted of 19 murders.
March 22nd: Richard Sykes, the British ambassador to the Netherlands is assassinated in The Hague by the Provisional IRA.
March 30th: Airey Neave, a British Conservative MP and an advisor to Margaret Thatcher, is assassinated by an INLA car bomb.
May 3th: A general election in Britain returns a Conservative Party government with Margaret Thatcher as prime minister.
August 27th: Lord Louis Mountbatten, a cousin of the Queen and former viceroy of India, is killed by a Provisional IRA bomb planted on his pleasure boat in County Sligo, Republic of Ireland. Three others are also killed including Mountbatten’s 14-year-old grandson.
August 27th: Two Provisional IRA bombs kill 18 British soldiers in Warrenpoint, County Down, the deadliest attack on British forces during the Troubles.
September 30th: While visiting Dublin, Pope John Paul II calls for an end to paramilitary violence in Northern Ireland. The Provisional IRA later rejects this plea.
January 23rd: Patrick Giuseppe Conlon, father of Gerard Conlon and a member of the Maguire Seven, dies in a British prison.
June 10th: Eight Provisional IRA prisoners engineer an escape from Crumlin Road prison in Belfast.
October: IRA prisoners in HM Prison Maze follow the Blanket Protest and Dirty Protest with a series of hunger strikes. These hunger strikes are called off in December.
March 1st: A second hunger strike in the Maze begins, led by Bobby Sands.
April 9th: Bobby Sands wins a by-election and a seat in the British parliament. He dies on May 5th on the 66th day of a hunger strike. Nine more hunger strikers die over the coming weeks.
May 19th: Five British soldiers are killed by a Provisional IRA bomb while on patrol in County Armagh.
September 1st: Lagan College, Northern Ireland’s first religiously integrated secondary school, is opened in Belfast.
October 3rd: The Maze hunger strikes are brought to a close, having produced a publicity victory for Sinn Fein and the Republican movement.
July 20th: The Provisional IRA detonates two bombs in London, one in Hyde Park and the other in Regent’s Park. The explosions kill eleven British soldiers and several military horses, while numerous civilians are also injured.
December 6th: A bomb planted by the INLA in a pub in Ballykelly, County Londonderry, explodes and kills 11 British soldiers and six civilians.
April 11th: Fourteen members of the UVF are handed lengthy prison sentences for paramilitary violence, after the first so-called ‘Supergrass’ trial. Their convictions are later overturned on appeal.
July 13th: A Provisional IRA land mine explodes near Ballygawley, County Tyrone, killing four British Army UDR personnel.
August 5th: Twenty-two Provisional IRA volunteers received a combined prison sentence of more than 4,000 years. Later, all but four have their convictions overturned.
September 25th: Led by Bobby Storey, 38 IRA prisoners escape from HM Prison Maze. Around half the escapees are quickly recaptured while the rest take refuge in County Armagh.
December 17th: A Provisional IRA car bomb explodes outside Harrods in London, killing six people: three civilians in their 20s, including an American citizen, and three police officers. Another 90 people are also injured. The IRA leadership later claims that the bomb was planted without their authorisation.
October 12th: The Provisional IRA attempts to assassinate Margaret Thatcher by detonating a bomb at the Grand Hotel in Brighton, England during a Conservative Party conference. Five were killed, including a British MP, however Thatcher was unhurt.
December: Ian Thain, a private in the British Army, is convicted of murdering Thomas Reilly in Belfast. Thain would serve two years in prison and on his release be returned to the army.
February 28th: The Provisional IRA attack a RUC base in Newry with mortars, killing nine officers and injuring another 37. This was the deadliest attack on the RUC during the Troubles.
November 15th: The Anglo-Irish Agreement, or Hillsborough Agreement, is signed by Margaret Thatcher and the Irish taoiseach Garret FitzGerlad. The agreement sets up the Anglo-Irish Inter-Governmental Conference, a group of politicians and officials from both Britain and the Republic of Ireland to discuss issues relating to Northern Ireland.
December: All 15 Unionist members of the British parliament resign in protest against the November agreement.
June: The Northern Ireland Assembly is dissolved.
August: The Provisional IRA announces that any civilians working with security forces in Northern Ireland would be viewed as collaborators and may be attacked.
November 2nd: At its party conference in Dublin, Sinn Fein splits over the issue of abstaining from taking up parliamentary seats.
November 10th: Loyalists meet in Belfast and form the Ulster Resistance, a group committed to abolishing the Anglo-Irish Agreement and ending any involvement of the Republic in the running of Northern Ireland.
May 8th: A 24-man British SAS team kills all members of an eight-strong Provisional IRA squad in Loughall, County Armagh. A civilian is also killed during the gunfight.
November 8th: A Provisional IRA bomb kills twelve people at a Remembrance Day ceremony in Enniskillen. Gordon Wilson, the father of a civilian killed in the attack, appears on television and announces that he forgives those responsible. Wilson begins campaigning for an end to the cycle of violence.
January: Gerry Adams and John Hume, leaders of Sinn Fein and the SDLP respectively, begin talks.
March 16th: Television crews in Milltown, Belfast film a graphic attack on an IRA funeral by a lone Loyalist.
June 15th: Six off duty British soldiers are killed when an IRA booby trap planted under their van explodes in Lisburn, near Belfast.
October 19th: The British government bans any media organisations it considers to be providing support to terrorists. It also bans the broadcasting of Gerry Adams’ voice.
March 5th: Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams calls for a “non-armed political movement to work for self determination” in Ireland.
September 22nd: In one of the deadliest attacks on British forces of the Troubles, 11 British Army musicians are killed by a Provisional IRA bomb at their base in Deal, England.
October: Gerard Conlon and other members of the Guildford Four have their convictions quashed, after an appellate court rules that police investigators had wilfully concealed an alibi.
November 3rd: Peter Brooke, the Northern Ireland secretary, tells the press that the IRA cannot be defeated militarily and calls for talks with Republicans.
April 9th: Four UDR soldiers are killed in County Down when a Provisional IRA land mine detonates under their vehicle.
November 9th: Northern Ireland secretary Peter Brookes declares that Britain has no objection to the unification of Ireland, provided “the people wished it”.
November 22nd: Margaret Thatcher resigns as British prime minister after losing the support of her Conservative Party colleagues. She is eventually replaced as prime minister by John Major.
March 14th: The commencement of the Brookes-Mayhew talks between representatives from the British and Republic of Ireland governments, Northern Ireland Unionists and the SDLP.
April 29th: All Loyalist paramilitaries announce a ceasefire until July 4th, pending the outcome of the Brookes-Mayhew talks.
May 31st: The Provisional IRA kills three British soldiers in a bombing in County Armagh.
January 17th: The Provisional IRA uses a land mine to blow up a minibus in Teebane, County Tyrone. The bus was carrying Protestant civilians working for the British Army, deemed collaborators by the IRA. Eight men were killed. Nine days later UFF volunteers retaliate by attacking a bookmakers shop in Belfast, killing five Catholic civilians.
February 17th: Sinn Fein releases a document containing its proposed peace strategy.
April 9th: A general election in Britain returns the Conservative Party and prime minister John Major to power. Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams loses his seat in the British parliament.
July 1st: Moderate Unionists agree to participate in talks with members of the Republic of Ireland, provoking outrage from Ian Paisley and others.
March 20th: Two children are killed by a PIRA bomb in Warrington, England.
April 7th: Peace campaigner Gordon Wilson, whose daughter was killed by a bomb in 1987, meets with Provisional IRA leaders and urges them to declare a ceasefire.
October 23rd: The Provisional IRA bombs a fish shop on the Shankill Road in Belfast, killing ten people, eight of them civilians. The bomb was intended for a meeting of Loyalist paramilitaries to be held above the shop, however the meeting had been delayed. A week later the UDA retaliates by attacking the Rising Sun Bar in Greysteel, County Derry, killing eight civilians (six Catholics and two Protestants).
December 15th: Talks between Britain and Ireland result in the Downing Street Declaration, aiming to allow the people of Northern Ireland a say in its future. Sinn Fein was promised a role in the talks to follow provided that they removed themselves from paramilitary violence.
January: The Republic of Ireland government lifts a broadcasting ban on Sinn Fein and its leaders.
June 2nd: A helicopter crash in Scotland kills 29 people including most of Britain’s Northern Ireland intelligence experts.
August 31st: The Provisional IRA calls a halt to all military operations, pending the outcomes of talks announced in the Downing Street Declaration.
September 16th: The British government lifts a ban on broadcasting the voices of Gerry Adams and other Republican leaders.
October 13th: The Combined Loyalist Military Command, an umbrella group representing Northern Ireland’s Loyalist paramilitaries, announces a ceasefire, to remain in effect while the IRA ceasefire continues.
March 17th: Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams shakes hands with US president Bill Clinton at a St Patrick’s Day luncheon in Washington D.C. Clinton later receives Adams at the White House, a meeting that causes some controversy.
June 25th: Lee Clegg, a British private sentenced to life imprisonment in 1993 for shooting an 18-year-old Catholic civilian, is released on license. Clegg’s release sparks riots in Catholic areas of Northern Ireland.
September 8th: David Trimble is elected leader of the Ulster Unionist Party.
Febuary 9th: The Provisional IRA ends its August 1994 ceasefire by bombing the Docklands area of London, killing two people.
June 10th: Peace talks commence at Stormont, without the attendance of delegates from Sinn Fein.
June 15th: The Provisional IRA detonates a massive bomb in the shopping district of Manchester, England, injuring 200 people.
July 7th: The Orange Order’s annual march through Catholic areas of Portadown, County Armagh is blocked by the RUC. This triggers several days of rioting and fighting between Loyalists, Catholics and RUC officers, forcing the RUC to back down and allow the march to proceed.
June: Sinn Fein wins its first seats in the Republic of Ireland Dail.
July 20th: The Provisional IRA declares another ceasefire pending peace talks at Stormont, scheduled for September.
September 8th: Sinn Fein signs the Mitchell Principles, affirming its commitment to a democratic, consultative and non-military peace process.
September 15th: Peace talks commence at Stormont between representatives of all parties, including Sinn Fein. It is the first time that Sinn Fein leaders have met with British ministers since 1921.
November: Dissatisfied with the progress of peace talks, several radical members of the Provisional IRA meet in the Republic of Ireland to discuss ways of continuing the armed struggle. They later form a splinter group called the Real IRA.
January 29th: British prime minister Tony Blair announces a new inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday 1972, to be headed by Lord Saville. This inquiry begins in April but does not hand down its findings until June 2010.
April 10th: The Good Friday Agreement or Belfast Agreement is signed at Stormont. This agreement determines that Ireland shall remain divided until a majority of the citizens of Northern Ireland decide otherwise. It also affirms that all citizens of Northern Ireland are entitled to civil rights. Irish language is to be taught in schools. Paramilitary groups are given 24 months to decommission and disarm. Political prisoners are to be released and the British security presence in Northern Ireland is to be steadily reduced.
May 9th: The Real IRA contacts a media organisation in Belfast and announces its existence, claiming responsibility for a mortar attack in Belleek, County Fermanagh.
May 22nd: Referendums on the Good Friday Agreement are held in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Both produce majorities in favour of the agreement (71 per cent in Northern Ireland and 94 per cent in the Republic).
June 25th: Elections for the newly formed Northern Ireland Assembly are held. The largest parties in the assembly are David Trimble’s UUP (28 seats), the SDLP (24 seats), Ian Paisley’s DUP (20 seats) and Sinn Fein (18 seats). Trimble is elected as the inaugural First Minister of Northern Ireland.
July 5th: Violence erupts again in Drumcree, Portadown during the annual Orange Order march, as 10,000 Loyalists do battle with RUC and Catholics.
August 15th: The Real IRA detonates a large car bomb in central Omagh, killing 29 people and injuring between 200-300 others. At a time when the peace process seemed to be working, this bombing causes shock and outrage across Ireland.
August 8th: The INLA issues a statement declaring that it has no intention of resuming its military campaign, as there is “no political or moral argument” to do so.
December 1st: British Direct Rule in Northern Ireland is formally ended and power is handed to the Northern Ireland Assembly.
February 11th: The British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Mandelson, suspends the Northern Ireland Assembly and reintroduces Direct Rule, citing a lack of progress with the decommissioning of paramilitary groups.
March 27th: The Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday commences its hearings in Derry.
May 10th: The Continuity IRA calls on the Provisional IRA to hand over all its weapons to those “prepared to defend the Republic”.
July 2nd: Violence breaks out again in Drumcree, Portadown, as RUC officers and British soldiers prevent Orange Order marchers from entering Catholic areas of the city.
July 28th: The last political prisoners to be released under the auspices of the Good Friday Agreement leave HM Prison Maze.
September 21st: Real IRA volunteers fire a rocket propelled grenade in London, targeting the headquarters of British intelligence agency MI6. In March the following year the Real IRA explodes a bomb outside the BBC in London.
June 19th: Loyalist protestors threaten and attack students, staff and parents at the Holy Cross School, a Catholic school surrounded by Protestant homes in Belfast. A Loyalist blockade prevents students entering the school. These protests continue intermittently until the end of the year.
July 11th: Orange Order and Protestant marches trigger three days of sectarian rioting and petrol bombing in Belfast. More than 110 officers are injured, 19 of them requiring hospitalisation.
November 4th: The Royal Ulster Constabulary is disbanded and replaced by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). By law the PSNI must recruit an equal number of Protestants and Catholics.
February 25th: Members of Love Ulster, a Unionist group, organise a provocative march through central Dublin. The marchers are confronted by Republicans and local gangs, leading to violence and significant disruption. Fourteen people are injured, six of them police officers, while 41 are arrested.
November 25th: Michael Stone, a Loyalist paramilitary volunteer, is arrested attempting to enter Stormont with a pistol and a bomb. He later admits planning to assassinate Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness and is sentenced to 16 years in prison.
March 7th: The third elections for the Northern Ireland Assembly are held, returning a DUP majority (36 seats) over Sinn Fein (28), the UUP (18) and the SDLP (16).
March 7th: The Real IRA attempts to disrupt the elections by shooting dead two off duty British soldiers outside Massereene Barracks in Antrim. They are the first British soldiers killed in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday Agreement.
March 9th: A PSNI officer is shot dead in County Armagh. The Continuity IRA, a radical splinter group of the Provisional IRA, claims responsibility.
March 26th: Gerry Adams (Sinn Fein) and Ian Paisely (Democratic Unionist Party) meet face to face and agree to power-sharing.
May 7th: Ian Paisley (DUP) and Martin McGuinness (Sinn Fein) are appointed Northern Ireland’s First Minister and deputy First Minister respectively. Despite their political differences Paisley and McGuinness form an effective working relationship.
June 27th: Two Loyalist paramilitary groups, the UVF and the Red Hand Commandos, decommission and surrender their weapons.
July 31st: Operation Banner, the British Army’s peacekeeping mission in Northern Ireland, formally comes to close.
October 11th: The INLA announces an end to its use of “armed struggle”.
January 6th: The UDA decommissions and surrenders its weapons before an independent panel.
February 6th: The INLA decommissions and surrenders its weapons before an independent panel.
February 22nd: The Real IRA detonates a car bomb outside a court building in Newry, however nobody is killed or seriously injured.
June 15th: British prime minister David Cameron tables the Saville Inquiry report into Bloody Sunday, which confirms that British soldiers opened fire first and shot unarmed civilians. Cameron issues an apology on behalf of the British government.
June 20th: Sectarian riots break out after Loyalists undertake provocative joyrides into Catholic areas of east Belfast. Rioting continues intermittently until mid-July, spreading across Belfast and into other areas including Derry, Newry and Portadown. More than 300 people are injured.
May 17th: Queen Elizabeth II undertakes a four day visit to the Republic of Ireland, the first by a reigning British monarch in 100 years.
June 27th: Queen Elizabeth II meets – and shakes hands with – Martin McGuinness, a former commander of the IRA.
July 12th: Orange Order marches provoke another outbreak of rioting in Belfast. Some 90 PSNI officers are injured and there is considerable damage to public and private property.
September 2nd: Loyalists attack a Republican parade in northern Belfast, triggering another three days of riots.
November 1st: A Real IRA gunman shoots dead a prison officer in County Armagh, apparently in retaliation for his treatment of Republican inmates.
December 4th: Belfast City Council’s decision to fly the British flag, the Union Jack, on specified days angers Loyalists. It triggers a wave of protests and rioting that continues intermittently through 2013.
April: Flag protests continue and Northern Ireland reports an economic loss due to declining tourism numbers.
July 12th: Loyalists go on the rampage after Orange Order marchers are denied access to Catholic areas of northern Belfast. Rioting and violence continues for five days and leads to more than 100 injuries and 62 arrests. A DUP politician, Nigel Dodds, is hospitalised after being struck by a brick thrown by Loyalist rioters.
April 8th: Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher dies in seclusion in London. The Northern Ireland media focuses firmly on Thatcher’s refusal to give way to hunger strikers in 1981, leading to several deaths.
This page was written by Rebekah Poole, Brian Doone and Jennifer Llewellyn. To reference this page, use the following citation:
Rebekah Poole et al, “Northern Ireland timeline”, Alpha History, accessed [today’s date], http://alphahistory.com/northernireland/northern-ireland/timeline/.