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  Time Line
A Time Line for the Troubles

| 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990-97 | 1998 | 1999 |

  1968 - 69
Catholics protest discrimination in voting rights, housing and unemployment. In December 1969, the Irish Republican Army splits into the Official IRA and the hardline Provisionals. Britain sends in troops to help quell the civil unrest.
Gunner Robert Curtis is killed by machine gun fire and becomes the first British soldier to die in Northern Ireland. In August troops arrest hundreds who are interned without trial, which triggers more violence and political unrest.


  • After a civil rights march, British soldiers shoot dead 14 Catholic demonstrators in the Northern Ireland city of Londonderry on Jan. 30 – a day dubbed "Bloody Sunday."
  • On "Bloody Friday" in July, several bombs explode, killing nine people and injuring many others.
  • The British government disbands the Northern Ireland parliament March 30 and imposes direct rule.

    Under the Sunningdale Agreement, a coalition government is formed but collapses after a Protestant strike and controversy over power-sharing issues. Direct rule resumes.

  • 1980s
    IRA prisoner Bobby Sands begins a hunger strike in Maze Prison near Belfast to protest his status as an ordinary criminal instead of recognition as a political prisoner. He dies after his 66th day of fasting; nine other republican prisoners go on a hunger strike and die.

    Gerry Adams becomes president of Sinn Fein, the political arm of the IRA.

    The United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland sign the Anglo-Irish Agreement, which gives the Irish Republic a consultative role on behalf of Catholics in some matters concerning Northern Ireland.


  • On March 6, three unarmed IRA members are killed in Gibraltar, setting off two weeks of violence.
  • At their funeral, loyalist gunman Michael Stone opens fire and throws grenades at mourners, killing three and wounding 50.
  • A few days later, at the funeral procession of one of the three victims, two British soldiers drive near the cortege and are beaten and fatally shot by a mob.

    A British court of appeals overturns the convictions of the "Guildford Four," three Irishmen and an Englishwoman who were arrested and imprisoned for two pub bombings in 1974. An investigation into the case found police misconduct, coerced confessions and fabrication of evidence.

  • 1990s
    Rival Catholic and Protestant political parties begin talks, marking the first time the parties have met since the mid-1970s. Talks end without progress the next year.

    British Prime Minister John Major and Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds issue the "Downing Street Declaration," a jointly-issued peace initiative aimed at reaching a settlement in Northern Ireland.


  • The United States grants a visa to Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams – denied requests over the past 11 years because of ties to terrorism – so he could speak at a foreign policy meeting. The move signaled the Clinton administration's belief that Adams was working toward peace.


  • Initiatives by British and Irish governments lead to cease-fires by both the IRA and, later, Protestant Unionist militia groups.

    Britain and Ireland announce a peace plan for Northern Ireland.


  • An international commission led by former U.S. senator George Mitchell offers compromises to resolve the stalemate plaguing the peace talks.


  • The IRA declares an end to their cease-fire and explodes a powerful bomb in London's largest office and apartment development, the Docklands.


  • The IRA renews its cease-fire in July; Sinn Fein later formally renounces violence and says it is committed to "exclusively peaceful means" to end the conflict, opening the way for its participation in multi-party talks on the future of Northern Ireland.


  • Leaders of Protestant and Catholic groups meet in October, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair holds landmark talks with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.


  • On Good Friday, April 10, the main political parties of both sides reach a historic agreement that, among other things, returns self-rule to Northern Ireland.


  • Voters overwhelmingly approve the Good Friday agreement and in June choose the 108 members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the locally elected government.


  • Terrorists detonate a car bomb August 15 amid a throng of shoppers in the town of Omagh, killing 28 people, and injuring more than 200 others. It is the worst incident of sectarian violence in 30 years.


  • The Irish National Liberation Army, a small but violent anti-British group opposed to the Northern Ireland peace agreement, announce a cease-fire August 23, offering a significant boost to restoring confidence in Northern Ireland's search for peace.


  • The Protestant leader of Northern Ireland's new proposed government and the head of the IRA-allied Sinn Fein party meet setting aside years of mistrust and suspicion.


  • Catholic politician John Hume and Protestant leader David Trimble win the Nobel Peace Prize for their work toward the Northern Ireland peace agreement.


  • The British government extends Northern Ireland's deadline to comply with the 1998 Good Friday accord amid debate over Irish Republican Army disarmament. In the interim, the two countries sign four treaties designed to increase political cooperation between Britain and Northern Ireland.

    A prominent Roman Catholic human rights lawyer is killed by a car bomb outside her home. The dissident Protestant Red Hand Defenders claims responsibility for the killing in a call to the BBC.

    Talks aimed at deciding how and when to dispose of paramilitary arms and munitions are suspended until April 13.

    The 17 soldiers who participated in the "Bloody Sunday" killing by British troops in Northern Ireland are entitled to anonymity when they testify, a court ruled June 17. On June 28, Britain's Tony Blair and Ireland's Bertie Ahern began talks in the hopes of making Northern Ireland's peace accord a reality.

    In an effort to revive the Good Friday peace process, Northern Ireland's largest Protestant party rejected July 14 the British government's latest plan that would set up a new, inclusive local government in Northern Ireland before the Irish Repbulican Army gives up any of its guns.

  • © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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