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.
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 the 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 an 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.