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The Irish Peace Process
- Chronology of Key Events (April 1998 - December 1999)



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Text and Research: Martin Melaugh
Material is added to this site on a regular basis - information on this page may change

This is a draft (v3) of the chronology of the key events in the Irish Peace Process from 1998 to 1999. This chronology has been compiled from a number of sources.

Chronology (1) of events leading up to the Peace Process (January 1988 - April 1993)
Chronology (2) of events during the Peace Process (April 1993 - April 1998)
Chronology (3) of events during the Peace Process (April 1998 - December 1999)
for more recent events see the draft chronologies for 2000 and 2001

1998

April

Saturday 11 April 1998
In a surprisingly heavy "pro" vote, the Good Friday Agreement overcame its first test with 55 members of Ulster Unionist Party Executive voting for it and 23 voting against. It was anticipated that with so many of party’s Members of Parliament (MPs) against the Agreement (including William Ross and William Thompson), the vote would have been much closer.
There was an overwhelming positive and welcoming response to the news of the Agreement at the multi-party talks in Belfast.

Sunday 12 April 1998
At a series of Sinn Féin (SF) rallies in Ireland to commemorate the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916, speeches were delivered which appeared to give the Good Friday Agreement a cautious welcome. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a statement which said that it would judge the Agreement "against its potential to deliver a just and durable peace in our country". Republican Sinn Féin (RSF) called for a 'no' vote in the planned referendums on the Agreement.

Monday 13 April 1998
Representatives of Sinn Féin (SF) said that they needed a "period of consultation" with their membership before they could sign the Good Friday Agreement. Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America (USA), said that he would visit Northern Ireland if it would help ensure the success of the Agreement. Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), launched a DUP campaign calling for people to reject the Agreement. William Thompson, then Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) MP, announced that he would be supporting the DUP campaign.

Tuesday 14 April 1998
In the Republic of Ireland the Irish authorities released nine Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners from Portlaoise Prison. On their release the prisoners pledged their "total support" for the leadership of Sinn Féin (SF).

Wednesday 15 April 1998
The Grand Orange Lodge, the ruling body of the Orange Order, decided not to support the Good Friday Agreement. While not rejecting the Agreement outright the members demanded clarification of a number of issues from British Prime Minister, Tony Blair before it would consider changing its position. [During the referendum campaign the Orange Order came out against the Agreement.]

Thursday 16 April 1998
An opinion poll indicated that 73 per cent of people in Northern Ireland were in favour of the Good Friday Agreement.

Friday 17 April 1998
David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), delivered a speech to the Northern Ireland Forum. Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, stated that the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) would not be disbanded and that only those prisoners whose organisations were on ceasefire would be released, on licence, from prison.

Saturday 18 April 1998
The ruling council of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) gave the Good Friday Agreement another significant boost when delegates backed it by 540 to 210 (72 per cent). While this was a major boost to David Trimble, then leader of the UUP, six out of the 10 UUP Members of Parliament (MPs) opposed the Agreement.
Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), addressed the SF Ard Fheis in Dublin. During his address he informed delegates of the news of the UUP vote on the Agreement and said "Well done, David"; there was a round of applause from the delegates at the news. Trimble later said this support by SF was a 'poisoned chalice'.

Monday 20 April 1998
Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), said that his party aimed to secure a 40 per cent 'no' vote in the forthcoming referendum on the Good Friday Agreement. [The actual 'no' vote was 28.88%.]

Tuesday 21 April 1998
Adrian Lamph (29), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) at the council yard where he worked in Portadown, County Armagh. Lamph was the first victim of the conflict since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) held the first of a series of anti-Agreement rallies in the run up to the referendum. The 32 County Sovereignty Committee issued a statement rejecting the Agreement as "fundamentally undemocratic, anti-Republican and unacceptable".

Wednesday 22 April 1998
The Irish parliament passed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution Bill which would allow for the necessary changes following the Good Friday Agreement. A ministerial order was also signed to allow for the referendum on 22 May 1998 which would ratify the proposed changes to the Irish Constitution.

Thursday 23 April 1998
Three members of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) shared a platform at the Ulster Hall in Belfast with Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), as part of a rally against the Good Friday Agreement. The three UUP members were: William Ross, William Thompson, and Roy Beggs. Also at the rally was Robert (Bob) McCartney, then leader of the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP), and also representatives of the Orange Order. Two Unionist members of the Parades Commission resigned from the organisation. The reason given for their decision was the level of media attention they had received since their original appointments to the Commission.
The Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Irish Constitution began considering a proposal that Members of Parliament (MPs) elected in Northern Ireland should be entitled to sit in the Daíl. The committee also began considering the possibility of permitting Irish citizens living in the North to vote in presidential elections and referendums.

Friday 24 April 1998
Last Meeting of Forum
The Northern Ireland Forum held its final session as the body was wound up. Only 30 of the original 110 members attended the final session. [The Forum had held 71 plenary sessions since May 1996. Sinn Féin (SF) had never taken any of the 17 seats won by the party and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) withdrew its 24 members after 3 weeks of the operation of the Forum.]
The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) issued a statement in support of the Good Friday Agreement saying that it would not lead to a united Ireland.

Saturday 25 April 1998
Ciaran Heffron (22), a Catholic civilian, was killed by Loyalist paramilitaries as he walked through the village of Crumlin, County Antrim. [Members of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) were blamed for the killing. It was claimed that those responsible for the killing had attended an anti-Agreement rally organised by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which had been held earlier in the nearby town of Antrim.]

Sunday 26 April 1998
Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), addressed a commemoration of the Easter Rising (which took place in 1916) in Dublin, and said that Britain had been "effectively ruled out of the equation" in regard to the future of Northern Ireland. The principle of consent, he said, was now the guiding factor in any future developments. [The remarks were thought to have given the 'No' campaign a boost.]

Monday 27 April 1998
Sinn Féin (SF) representatives travelled to London to attend a meeting with Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, in Downing Street. Afterwards Gerry Adams, then President of SF, described the meeting as "constructive" and said that his party would "keep moving forward" in the search for peace in Northern Ireland.

Wednesday 29 April 1998
Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, then Northern Ireland Victims Commissioner, published his report, We Will Remember Them, on the victims of the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Thursday 30 April 1998
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a statement on the Good Friday Agreement and the issue of decommissioning. The IRA stated that the Agreement "falls short of presenting a solid basis for a lasting settlement" and went on to say: "Let us make it clear that there will be no decommissioning by the IRA".
David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), issued an ultimatum to those members of the UUP who publicly expressed opposition to the Agreement to follow the party position on the issue.

May

Friday 1 May 1998
The Orange Order called on its members (estimated at between 60,000 - 80,000) and supporters to vote 'No' in the forthcoming referendum.

Monday 4 May 1998
Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), officially launched the Fianna Fáil (FF) campaign for a 'Yes' vote in the Republic of Ireland. John Bruton, then leader of Fine Gael (FG), called on political leaders, north and south, to step up their campaigns for a 'Yes' vote.

Tuesday 5 May 1998
The United Unionist Campaign (UUC) was launched in Belfast to oppose the Good Friday Agreement in the referendum. The group was made up of representatives of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP), and also dissident Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Members of Parliament (MPs). The UUC used the slogan: "It's Right to say No".

Wednesday 6 May 1998
The Sinn Féin (SF) leadership confirmed its support for the Good Friday Agreement, recommending that members in both the North and the South should vote 'Yes' in the forthcoming referendum. It had been reported that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) had taken the decision to drop the ban on members of the Republican movement taking part in an assembly at Stormont. Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, and John Major, a former British Prime Minister, travelled to Northern Ireland to lend their support to the campaign for a 'Yes' vote in the referendum.

Thursday 7 May 1998
"real" IRA emerge
It was confirmed that a new Republican paramilitary group had emerged. The group was mainly formed from dissident members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). [The media reported the name of the group as the "real" IRA (rIRA); the group were thought to refer to themselves as Óglaigh na hÉireann.]
The Northern Ireland (Elections) Act became law. The Act provided for the establishment of an Assembly at Stormont if the Agreement was approved in the forthcoming referendums. The British government announced that funding (estimated at £5 million) was to be made available for support schemes for victims of the conflict.

Friday 8 May 1998
The "real" Irish Republican Army (rIRA) issued a statement saying that the organisation's ceasefire was over and military attacks would resume. In particular the group said that it had declared war on the British Cabinet.

Sunday 10 May 1998
SF End Abstentions

At the party’s Ard Fheis in Dublin, Sinn Fein (SF) members voted to change their constitution to allow candidates to take their places in the proposed new Northern Ireland Assembly. The party was addressed by Gerry Adams, then President of SF. [The removal of the policy of ‘abstentionism’ was a historical move which ended 77 years of refusing to participate in institutions of government in Northern Ireland.]

Tuesday 12 May 1998
The continuing divisions between Unionists in favour of the Good Friday Agreement and those against were evident in personal exchanges between Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). Trimble accused Paisley of "running away again" after Paisley pulled out of a scheduled television debate between the two men.
The British government announced a £315 million economic package for Northern Ireland. Gordon Brown, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, travelled to Northern Ireland to make the announcement at a gathering of business people and politicians. Brown denied that the package was a bribe to entice voters to support the Good Friday Agreement.

Wednesday 13 May 1998
An anti-Agreement rally was held in Newtownards, County Down. The rally was addressed by representatives of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and former Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) members.
[The British government was forced to hand over all its private polling information on the forthcoming referendum to the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP). This followed a protest by Robert (Bob) McCartney, then leader of the UKUP, that the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) was informing the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) of its poll findings and thus giving the 'Yes' campaign an unfair advantage. News of the British decision was reported in the 'Sunday Tribune' (a Republic of Ireland newspaper) on 17 May 1998.]

Thursday 14 May 1998
Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, paid another visit to Northern Ireland to continue campaigning for a 'Yes' vote in the referendum. During his visit he delivered a key note speech.

Friday 15 May 1998
LVF Ceasefire

The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) announced an "unequivocal ceasefire" which the organisation hoped would encourage people to vote against the Good Friday Agreement.
Despite attempts by Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, and David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), to win over Jeffrey Donaldson, then UUP Member of Parliament (MP), Donaldson confirmed that he would be voting 'No' in the forthcoming referendum on the Good Friday Agreement. The decision by Donaldson was seen as giving a significant boost to the 'No' campaign. Another poll confirmed that the main reason people were planning to vote 'No' was the planned release of paramilitary prisoners under the Agreement. The Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) held a 'Yes' rally in the Ulster Hall in Belfast. [Michael Stone, then a Loyalist prisoner serving a sentence for the murder of three people, was released from the Maze Prison to attend the rally. As in the case of the Sinn Féin (SF) Ard Fheis on 9 May 1998, the scene of celebration that greeted the appearance of Stone resulted in fresh controversy about the policy of releasing prisoners to appear at rallies.]

Saturday 16 May 1998
There was a rally held in Lurgan, County Armagh, in support of the 'No' campaign. At the rally a message was read out from James Molyneaux, former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), who said that he would be voting against the Good Friday Agreement.

Sunday 17 May 1998
Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, said there was no "plan B" if the Agreement was rejected in the referendum. Blair and Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America (USA), issued a joint statement urging people to recognise the opportunities offered by the Agreement and to vote 'Yes'.

Tuesday 19 May 1998
John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), met on the stage at a U2 concert at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall. The concert had been arranged to support the 'Yes' campaign. [Bono, then lead singer with the group U2, joined the two party leaders on stage and held their arms aloft. This event was thought to have given the 'Yes' campaign a much needed boost. Until then the two party leaders had not campaigned together.]

Wednesday 20 May 1998
Blair's Pledges

Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, delivered a speech at the Coleraine campus of the University of Ulster in which he unveiled a hand-written set of pledges to the people of Northern Ireland in advance of the Referendum on 22 May 1998.
Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America (USA), sent a personal message to the people of Northern Ireland calling on them to vote 'Yes' in the forthcoming referendum.
In the final hours of campaigning David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), took part in a live television debate. The 10 minute encounter took place on the BBC's 'Newsline' programme. The debate was heated with Paisley accusing Trimble of being prepared to "break the union".

Friday 22 May 1998
Referendum on The Agreement

There was a huge turnout throughout the island of Ireland as people in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland voted on the Good Friday Agreement (in the Republic there was a further vote on the Ratification of the Amsterdam Treaty). This was the first all-Ireland poll since the general election of 1918. It was clear from the number of people going to polling stations across Northern Ireland that there had been a high turnout (the figure was 81.10%). [When all the votes were counted the results were as follows: Northern Ireland - Yes 71.12%, No 28.88% (turnout 81.10%); Republic of Ireland - Yes 94.39%, No 5.61% (turnout 56.26%); Ireland overall - Yes 85.46%, No 14.54%, (turnout 53.70%).
In the Republic of Ireland, the Amsterdam Treaty was ratified, with the results as follows: Yes 62%, No 38%.]

25 May 1998
The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) named Billy Hutchinson, then a Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) councillor, as its contact with the arms decommissioning body.

Tuesday 26 May 1998
The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) took the decision not to allow the anti-agreement MP, Jeffrey Donaldson, to stand for election to the new Northern Ireland Assembly. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) held a news conference in Belfast and said that the party would not set out to wreck the Assembly.

Wednesday 27 May 1998
In the aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement the issue of the 'decommissioning' of paramilitary weapons began to dominate the political agenda. [Decommissioning was to prove a stumbling block to the full implementation of the Agreement and the issue was still causing problems in November 1999.]

Thursday 28 May 1998
Martin McGuinness, then Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), held a meeting with Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Following the meeting McGuinness warned against "falling into the trap of trying to make decommissioning the most important item on the agenda".

June

1 June 1998
Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, delivered a speech on the results of the referendum.

4 June 1998
The text of a Northern Ireland Office (NIO) memo on the run-up to the announcement of the Independent Commission on Policing was leaked to the press.

8 June 1998
The fact that the newly established Police Commission in Northern Ireland did not contain any of the people nominated by the Irish government, on behalf of Nationalists in Northern Ireland, was thought to have caused considerable difficulties between the two governments. A leaked # memo indicated that Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, had personally contacted the Irish government, the White House, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), Sinn Féin (SF), and other interested parties to explain her decision and to seek agreement for it.

Tuesday 9 June 1998
The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) launched its Assembly election manifesto. David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), said that the UUP would not sit down with "unrepentant terrorists".

Wednesday 10 June 1998
David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and nine other Unionist and Conservative Members of Parliament (MPs) voted against the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Bill during the second reading of the Bill in the House of Commons. The proposed act was to allow for the early release of paramilitary prisoners as part of the Good Friday Agreement.

19 June 1998
In a debate in the House of Commons on the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Bill there were divisions over the issue of the release of paramilitary prisoners. David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and John Taylor, then deputy leader of the UUP, abstained from voting but six UUP Members of Parliament (MPs) voted against the bill along with Conservative MPs.

Thursday 25 June 1998
Northern Ireland Assembly Election
An election was held across Northern Ireland to chose representatives for the new Northern Ireland Assembly. The election was contested in the 18 parliamentary constituencies with six people being returned from each of the constituencies making a total of 108 members for the new Assembly. [When the votes were counted the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) marginally beat the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) in the number of first preference votes, but the UUP gained 4 more seats that the SDLP (28 seats as opposed to 24). The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) obtained 20 seats and Sinn Féin (SF) returned 18 candidates.]

Saturday 27 June 1998
Counting in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections came to a close. [The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) emerged as the largest party with 28 seats. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) had 24, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) 20, Sinn Féin (SF) 18, Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) 5, the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP) 5, Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) 2, Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition (NIWC) 2, Independent Unionist 1, UU 1, and the UUU 1. In a major political breakthrough for the nationalist community, the SDLP emerged as the largest gainers of the first preference vote with 22%. They were followed by the UUP on 21.3%, the DUP on 18.1%, SF on 17.6%, Alliance on 6.5%, and Others on 14.5%.]

Monday 29 June 1998
The Parades Commission announced that it would not permit the Drumcree march by the Orange Order to use the return route along the mainly Nationalist Garvaghy Road unless there was, what it termed, a "local agreement".
In a surprise development John Alderdice announced his resignation as leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI). [Alderdice made the move to allow him to stand as ‘Presiding Officer' (Speaker) of the new Northern Ireland Assembly. It later transpired that the post was originally to have gone to Seamus Close, then deputy leader of the APNI. The subsequent row was one of the few public disagreements that the APNI had engaged in.]

? June 1998
The British government published the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Bill.

July 1998

Wednesday 1 July 1998
First Meeting of 'Shadow' Assembly
'First Minister Designate' and 'Deputy First Minister Designate' Elected

All the political parties who had won seats during the Northern Ireland Assembly election took their places in the new Assembly chamber at Stormont. The Assembly met in 'shadow' form as powers had not yet been devolved. Those present included the parties, and candidates, who had opposed the Good Friday Agreement.
During the first session of the new Northern Ireland Assembly David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), was elected 'First Minister Designate' of the new Assembly. Seamus Mallon, then deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), was elected 'Deputy First Minister Designate'.
John Alderdice, formerly the leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI), was appointed as the ‘Presiding Officer Designate' (the Speaker) of the new Assembly.

Thursday 2 July 1988
The formalities of the setting up of the new Northern Ireland Assembly continued. Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, travelled to Belfast for a meeting with David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and First Minster designate, and Seamus Mallon, then deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and Deputy First Minster designate.

Saturday 4 July 1998
Private meetings were held to attempt to resolve the dispute over the forthcoming Orange Order parade from Drumcree to Portadown. However, the talks failed to produce a breakthrough in the dispute.

Sunday 5 July 1998
Drumcree Parade - 'Drumcree IV'

For the fourth year in a row the Drumcree parade by the Portadown District Lodge of the Orange Order proved to be the focal point for divisions in Northern Ireland. The parade passed from the centre of Portadown, County Armagh, along the edge of a Nationalist area to the Church of Ireland parish church at Drumcree where the Orangemen attended a service. However, as the Orangemen attempted to walk back to the centre of Portadown, along the mainly Catholic Garvaghy Road, the route was blocked by the police and the British Army. A stand-off began. The decision to reroute the parade had been taken by the Parades Commission. As the day wore on the number of Orangemen protesting at Drumcree increased. The British government said that it would "hold the line" against those protesting at Drumcree. Throughout the day there were street protests across Northern Ireland by Loyalists in support of the Orange Order. A number of roads were blocked and some cars set on fire. A number of Catholic homes were also attacked in Belfast.

Monday 6 July 1998
An estimated 10,000 people gathered through the early morning hours at Drumcree, Portadown, County Armagh, to protest at the decision not to allow the Orange Order parade to pass through the mainly Catholic Garvaghy Road area of Portadown. Violence flared in a number of Loyalist areas of Northern Ireland with the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) being fired at by Loyalist paramilitaries. A number of main roads across the region were blocked at different times during the day, and a number of Catholic families were the subject of violent attacks and intimidation.
The Parades Commission ruled that the Twelfth of July Orange Order 'feeder' parade would be allowed to proceed along the mainly Catholic Ormeau Road in Belfast on Monday 13 July 1998.

Tuesday 7 July 1998
Violence continued in a number of areas of Loyalist areas of Northern Ireland. The tactic of blocking roads continued to be used, although most were reopened within a few hours. Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), addressed a rally in Portadown and said that the Twelfth of July would be "the settling day". [His use of this phrase was to draw criticism following the events of the early hours of 12 July 1998.]

Wednesday 8 July 1998
The situation at Drumcree deteriorated considerably with sustained violent attacks on the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and British Army barricades by protesting Orange men.

Thursday 9 July 1998
Orange Order demonstrators at Drumcree attempted to cross security force barriers. Security force members, who came under attack from guns and blast bombs, replied with plastic bullets.

Friday 10 July 1998
A large section of the crowd taking part in the demonstration at Drumcree Church tried on several occasions to break through Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and British Army lines to get on to the Garvaghy Road. There was continuing Loyalist violence across Northern Ireland with many roads blocked, and Catholic homes and businesses were again attacked.

Saturday 11 July 1998
Proximity (indirect) talks were held in Armagh between representatives of the Orange Order and the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition (GRRC). Jonathen Powell, then Chief of Staff at Downing Street, acted as the mediator between the two groups. The Orange Order maintained its position that it would not engage in face-to-face talks with the GRRC; there was no agreement between the two sides.

Sunday 12 July 1998
Three Boys Killed at Ballymoney

Three young Catholic boys, Richard (11), Mark (10), and Jason (9) Quinn, were killed after their home, in Ballymoney, County Antrim, was petrol bombed in a sectarian attack carried out by Loyalists. Christine Quinn the boys mother, her partner, Raymond Craig, and a family friend, Christina Archibald (18) escaped from the house but they and neighbours were unable to reach the three boys. Lee Quinn (13), the oldest son, was staying with his grandmother when the incident occurred. William Bingham (Rev.), then Deputy Grand Chaplain of the Orange Order, called for the Drumcree protest to be ended and said that the 15 minute march down the Garvaghy Road would be "a hallow victory" as it would be taking place in the shadows of three little white coffins. David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and Robin Eames (Dr), then Church of Ireland Primate, also called for an end to the protest. The Orange Order rejected these and other similar calls. [The protest at Drumcree declined following the Quinn deaths but a token protest was maintained during the whole of the year to July 1999.]

Monday 13 July 1998
The Orange Order 'Twelfth' celebrations were held at centres across Northern Ireland (the parades were held on 13 July because the 12 July fell on a Sunday). Catholic residents of the Lower Ormeau Road held a peaceful protest against an Orange parade through the area. The number of people involved in the Drumcree stand-off decreased considerably following the extensive condemnation of the Orange Order’s response to the deaths of the Quinn children in a sectarian attack in Ballymoney, County Antrim, on 12 July 1998.

Tuesday 14 July 1998
The funeral took place of the three Quinn children in Rasharkin, County Antrim. There was a huge turnout for the funeral.

Wednesday 15 July 1998
The British government introduced the Northern Ireland Bill into the House of Commons. The Bill was designed to implement the various provisions of the Good Friday Agreement.

Thursday 16 July 1998
Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America (USA), made a pledge to the surviving Quinn brother, Lee (13), that he would do all he could to bring peace to Northern Ireland.

Friday 17 July 1998
After 12 days of often violent protest the Orange Order conceded that it would not be able to force its way down the Garvaghy Road. The number of people taking part in the demonstrations at Drumcree had dropped from 10,000 to 1,500 since the death of the three Quinn children on 12 July 1998.
Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, pledged that the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) would remain intact despite any review of its future.

Friday 24 July 1998
The Police (Northern Ireland) Act was passed in the House of Commons.

Tuesday 28 July 1998
The Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act became law. The legislation allowed for the early release of paramilitary prisoners. Only prisoners who were members of organisations that were observing ceasefires could benefit from the legislation.
As part of a government reshuffle of ministerial posts, John McFall replaced Tony Worthington at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO).

August

1 August 1998
Thirty-three civilians and two members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) were injured when a car bomb (estimated at 500 pounds) exploded in Banbridge, County Down. Extensive damage was also caused in the explosion that was later claimed by the "real" Irish Republican Army (rIRA).

6 August 1998
Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said that she believed that the "war is over". [This was said in response to Unionist demands that Sinn Féin (SF) and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) should state publicly that the conflict had ended.]

8 August 1998
(or 10 August) The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) issued a statement that said "our war is over". This was a follow-up to the announcement of a ceasefire on 15 May 1998. It was thought that the statement was a response to the fact that LVF prisoners had not been included on the list of those eligible for release that was presented on 28 July 1998. Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), told a meeting in west Belfast that he would not be pressured into uttering the words "the war is over" to satisfy Unionists.

10 August 1998
The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) issued a statement which stated that as far as the grouping was concerned the "war is over". [Many people expressed doubts about the real intentions of the LVF.]

Saturday 15 August 1998
The Omagh Bomb

Twenty-nine people died as a result of an explosion at 3.10 pm in Omagh, County Tyrone. The bomb had been planted by the "real" Irish Republican Army (rIRA). The death toll represented the single worst incident within Northern Ireland since the beginning of the conflict. Among the dead were family members, one family lost members from three generations, and close friends, and a number of tourists from the Republic of Ireland and Spain. One woman who died was pregnant with twins. There were hundreds of people injured some of whom lost limbs or their sight. [28 people died on the day and an injured man died three weeks later. Another man was killed when the car he was driving was involved in a collision with an ambulance that was transporting injured people to a hospital in Belfast.] It was later learnt that there had been a misleading phone warning and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) directed people towards the bomb rather than away from it. [The code word used was that of the rIRA, a breakaway group of dissident members from the Provisional IRA who disagreed with the political direction being taken by the Sinn Féin leadership. There was outrage and shock across the whole population of Northern Ireland. Many people expressed the hope that this incident would mark a turning point in the conflict.]

Sunday 16 August 1998
The 32-County Sovereignty Committee issued a statement denying that the organisation was associated with those responsible for the Omagh bombing.

Monday 17 August 1998
The Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) issued a statement calling upon the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) to announce a ceasefire. The IRSP said that it felt, in the light of the Omagh bombing, that the ‘armed struggle’ could no longer be justified. The IRSP also felt that the INLA would call a ceasefire in the near future.

18 August 1998
"real" IRA Suspension of Military Actions

The "real" Irish Republican Army (rIRA) announced that "all military operations have been suspended". The announcement came in a telephone call to the Irish News, a Northern Ireland newspaper, at 11.35 pm and the ‘suspension’ took effect from midnight. Earlier in the day the rIRA had contacted the Dublin office of the Irish News and stated that the organisation was responsible for the Omagh bombing but denied that it had deliberately set out to kill people.

19 August 1998
Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), announced his governments intention to introduce tough anti-terrorist measures. The proposals would include seizure of land or other property which has been used for storing weapons or making bombs. In addition it was announced that a suspect’s right to silence would be withdrawn. Ahern admitted that the measures could be described as "draconian".

Saturday 22 August 1998
INLA Ceasefire

The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) announced that it was to go on ceasefire as from midday. [There were calls for the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) to also announce a ceasefire.]

Monday 24 August 1998 ?
Christopher McWilliams, then Officer Commanding (OC) the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) in the Maze Prison, declared that the "war is over".

Wednesday 26 August 1998
Blair Visits Omagh
Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, paid a visit to the site of the bomb in Omagh, County Tyrone. Blair promised draconian legislation to deal with any paramilitary groups that refused to call a ceasefire. Sinn Féin (SF) said the new measures would amount to "internment in another guise".

28 August 1998
The minutes of a meeting on 6 August between Adam Ingram, then Security Minister at the NIO, and the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Assembly Group, were leaked. At the meeting the UUP were reported as saying there would be "no chance" of an Executive being formed without decommissioning of Irish Republican Army (IRA) weapons.

29 August 1998 ??
The "real" Irish Republican Army (rIRA) stated that it believed that a continuation of its campaign was futile "in the circumstances of Omagh and the Mitchell agreement". The rIRA indicated that a ceasefire would be called. ??

Monday 31 August 1998
The government in the Republic of Ireland published the Offences Against The State (Amendment) Bill providing for curtailment of the right to silence, longer detention periods and five new offences, including "direction of terrorism".

September

Tuesday 1 September 1998
Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), announced in a statement that: "Sinn Féin believe the violence we have seen must be for all of us now a thing of the past, over, done with and gone." David Trimble in his role as First Minister Designate, invited Gerry Adams to a round-table meeting. [These developments came in advance of the arrival of Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America (USA), on a visit to Northern Ireland on 3 September 1998.] In an interview the Irish Republican Army (IRA) said that it would not decommission its weapons and claimed that Unionists were using the issue to try to re-negotiate the Good Friday Agreement. The interview was given to 'An Phoblacht / Republican News' and was published in full on Thursday 3 September 1998 in the paper. John Bruton, then leader of Fine Gael (FG), said the statement by the IRA on decommissioning made it unthinkable that politicians associated with it could take part in an Executive.

Wednesday 2 September 1998
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) was reported as having issued a warning to the "real" IRA (rIRA) that it should disband "sooner rather than later". The IRA also threatened action against members of the 32 County Sovereignty Committee.

3 September 1998
Clinton Visit to Northern Ireland; New Emergency Legislation

Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America, paid his second visit to Northern Ireland. Clinton delivered his key note address at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast. [Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, also delivered a speech, as did David Trimble and Seamus Mallon.]
At the House of Commons the Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Bill, was passed despite grave reservations by some Members of Parliament (MPs) that the measures were being rushed through without adequate debate. In the Republic of Ireland the Offences Against The State (Amendment) Bill passed into law after it was signed by the Presidential Commission. Although civil liberties groups warned that it was a bad law the bill met little opposition in the Dáil or the Seanad. The Irish government did however agree to an annual review of the legislation.

5 September 1998
David Trimble, then First Minister designate and leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), repeated his view that decommissioning of Irish Republican Army (IRA) weapons was necessary before the UUP would enter an Executive with Sinn Féin (SF). Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), said that there was nothing in the Good Friday Agreement that prevented the immediate establishment of an Executive which would include SF members as of right.

Monday 7 September 1998
"real" IRA Announce Ceasefire
The "real" Irish Republican Army (rIRA) announced a "complete cessation" of its campaign of violence. [The announcement came after weeks of intense pressure on the group in the wake of the Omagh bombing. The only remaining Republican grouping that had not called a ceasefire was the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA).] Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), called on the CIRA to state its position or face the full rigours of the law.
David Trimble, in his role as First Minister designate, met Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), during a round-table discussion with the leaders of Northern Ireland political parties. This was the first time Trimble had agreed to be in the same meeting as Adams. (or next day ??)

Thursday 10 September 1998
Meeting Between Trimble and Adams

David Trimble, then First Minister designate and leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), held his first face-to-face meeting with Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF). The meeting took place in private at Stormont, Belfast. Both men later described the meeting as cordial and businesslike. Adams said: "He is a man I can do business with" but repeated his position that he could not deliver on decommissioning. [This was the first meeting between SF and a Unionist leader since the formation of Northern Ireland.]

Friday 11 September 1998
First Paramilitary Prisoners Released Under Agreement
The first of the paramilitary prisoners were released from jails in Northern Ireland under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. Seven prisoners, including three Republican and three Loyalist, were released in a programme that was expected to take two years to complete.
Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), told Chris Patten, then chairman of the Commission reviewing the future of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), that major reform of the force was necessary if the force was to become acceptable to both communities in Northern Ireland. Ahern made his comments during a meeting with Patten at Government buildings in Dublin.

Monday 14 September 1998
Meeting of Northern Ireland Assembly
The Northern Ireland Assembly met for the first time since June 1998. David Trimble, then First Minister designate, said that the issue of decommissioning remained an obstacle to the establishment of the Northern Ireland Assembly. The formation of the Executive was postponed. [The executive was established on 29 November 1999.] Trimble also said that the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) could not take part in the Executive in a selective fashion. Two former members of the UUP and an Independent Unionist joined together to form the United Unionist Assembly Party (UUAP).

Saturday 19 September 1998
Gerry Kelly, a senior member of Sinn Féin (SF), warned of a looming crisis in the peace process if Unionists insisted that prior disarmament was the "bottom line" before SF would be allowed to enter an Executive. Kelly said Unionists were "generating unrealisable expectations" that decommissioning was about to happen.

Tuesday 22 September 1998
David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), travelled to Dublin for a meeting with Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister). The main item on the agenda was the issue of the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons. There was growing tension in recent days over this issue. Trimble supported a call by Ahern for the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to set out a timetable for decommissioning.

Wednesday 23 September 1998
There was disagreement between Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), and David Trimble, then First Minister designate, over the issue of decommissioning. Adams said that Irish Republican Army (IRA) decommissioning was not within SF’s gift and accused Trimble of trying to impose conditions on SF’s entry into the Executive and trying to renegotiate the Agreement.

Thursday 24 September 1998
There was disagreement between David Trimble, then First Minister designate, and Seamus Mallon, Deputy First Minister designate, over the establishment of the North-South Ministerial Council. Trimble said that the inaugural meeting of the new body should take place within weeks. However, Mallon said that he would not agree to such a move until the "shadow" Executive was set up first.

Friday 25 September 1998
David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and Seamus Mallon, then deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), became involved in a disagreement over the timing of the establishment of a shadow Executive. Mallon stated that the issue of decommissioning had "almost become a soap opera".

Wednesday 30 September 1998
Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), announced that a number of British Army installations and check-points were to be demolished. There was a further series of releases under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
Seamus Mallon, then deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), addressed a meeting of the Labour Party conference in Blackpool, England. Mallon, while acknowledging that there was no pre-condition to Sinn Féin's (SF) entry into an Executive, nevertheless called on the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to make a confidence building gesture. Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), also addressed the meeting and stated that the row over decommissioning had the potential to wreck the Good Friday Agreement.

October

9 October 1998
Members of the UUP opposed to the Good Friday Agreement set up the 'Union First' pressure group within the party.

Saturday 10 October 1998
Martin McGuinness, the Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), travelled to Dublin for a meeting with Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister). The meeting failed to provide any progress on the issue of decommissioning.

Saturday 17 October 1998
It was announced that the Nobel Prize for Peace would be awarded jointly to John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP).

Monday 19 October
Both David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and First Minister designate, and Martin McGuinness, then Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), travelled to London for separate meetings with Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister. Trimble told the Prime Minister that SF should not be given seats on the Executive without prior decommissioning of weapons. Both McGuinness and Trimble blamed the other for the impasse over decommissioning.

Saturday 24 October 1998
David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), delivered a speech to the Annual Conference of the UUP. Trimble repeated his view that Sinn Féin (SF) members could not become part of an Executive before decommissioning by the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

Monday 26 October 1998
Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), said that there was no chance of the North-South Ministerial Council being established before the 31 October 1998 deadline. David Trimble, then First Minister designate, said that the 31 October was not an absolute deadline. Martin McGuinness, the Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), accused Unionists of trying to rewrite the Good Friday Agreement.

31 October 1998
Deadline for Formation of Executive

The deadline is missed for the formation of the Executive, of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and the North-South Ministerial Body. The main reasons for the failure to implement the Good Friday Agreement were to do with disagreements on the issue of decommissioning.

November

Monday 2 November 1998
Brain Service (35), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by Loyalists after he left his brother's house in north Belfast. [The Red Hand Defenders (RHD) later claimed responsibility for the killing. The RHD were a new Loyalist paramilitary grouping comprising dissent Loyalists opposed to the Good Friday Agreement and opposed to the ceasefires of the main Loyalist paramilitary organisations.] In a joint statement the First, and Deputy First, Ministers pledged that the killing would not derail the peace process.

Tuesday 3 November 1998 or 2 Nov ??
Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), became the first Taoiseach in over 30 years to visit Stormont. Ahern was there to discuss the North-South Ministerial Council.

Tuesday 10 November
A delegation from Sinn Féin (SF) travelled to London for talks with Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, about what they saw as the stalled peace process.

Wednesday 11 November 1998
The announcement that the Maze prison in County Antrim would close by the year 2000 if the Good Friday Agreement was fully implemented was greeted by anger on the part of many Unionists. [The closure of the Maze would have a large impact on security related jobs which are almost entirely held by Protestants.]

Friday 13 November 1998
The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) announced that it was willing to decommission some of its weapons if the Irish Republican Army (IRA) matched their gesture on a ratio of ten IRA weapons for every LVF weapon.
Seamus Mallon, then deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), delivered a speech to the Annual Conference of the SDLP.

Saturday 14 November 1998
John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), addressed the annual SDLP conference and said Unionists and Nationalists had at last taken their future into their hands and seized control of their history, rather than history controlling them. [During the conference the SDLP said it would help to remove Sinn Féin (SF) from the Executive if the Irish Republican Army (IRA) failed to decommission within the specified time-scale. The party also said it would not support any attempt by Unionists to rewrite the Good Friday Agreement.]

Tuesday 17 November
The government accepted that the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) ceasefire was genuine thus making it possible for LVF prisoners to be considered for early release.
The 'Irish Times' (newspaper based in Republic of Ireland) carried an article by Robert (Bob) McCartney, then leader of the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP), on the issue of decommissioning.

Wednesday 18 November
Michael McGimpsey, then Security Spokesperson of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), warned that the Good Friday Agreement could collapse if there were moves to disband the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).

Thursday 19 November
A spokesperson on behalf of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) said that the group had decided to postpone the handover of (some) weapons. The reason given was the remarks made by Ken Maginness, Security Spokesman of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), when he called the LVF "ruthless" and "sectarian killers".
The Northern Ireland Act, which provides for the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, became law.

23 November 1998
Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), addressed the Fianna Fáil (FF) Ard Fheis and said that he believed a united Ireland was inevitable within 20 years. Ahern also called for an impartial police service in Northern Ireland.

25 November 1998
Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, travelled to Northern Ireland for talks with representatives of the main political parties in the region.

Thursday 26 November 1998
Tony Blair became the first British Prime Minister to address both houses of the Oireachtas (the Irish Parliament). His speech dealt with the Good Friday Agreement and the relationships between Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

Saturday 28 November 1998
George Mitchell, formerly Chairman of the multi-party talks, held meetings with Northern Ireland political leaders in Belfast. Seamus Mallon, Deputy First Minister designate, spoke of a "distinct possibility" that President Clinton would try to resolve the decommissioning row but added that he had no specific knowledge of such a move.
Peter Robinson, then deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), addressed the Annual Conference of the DUP and urged members of the Ulster Unionists Party (UUP) to "topple" their leader David Trimble. Robinson went on to say: "Better by far that you topple Trimble now rather than give him time to drag this province step by step to Dublin." The conference was also addressed by the party leader Ian Paisley.

December

Wednesday 2 December 1998
Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, travelled to Belfast to try to aid the search for a deal on the issue of the setting up of departments and the North South Ministerial Council. [By the time Blair left a number of commentators felt that agreement had been reached. However, any understanding that may have been reached soon fell apart with the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) being blamed for stalling on the issue.]

Saturday 5 December 1998
Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), travelled to Dublin for a meeting with Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister).

Tuesday 8 December 1998
Efforts to find agreement on the setting up of departments and the North South Ministerial Council continued in Dublin and London, as Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), warned that slippage beyond Monday 14 December 1998 would be "an awful mistake". In Washington President Clinton urged Northern Irish politicians to move the peace process forward, reminding them they should "obey not only the letter of the Good Friday Agreement but its spirit as well".

Thursday 10 December 1998
Nobel Peace Prize

John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), received their Nobel Peace Prizes at an awards ceremony in the City Hall, Oslo. [Hume speech; Trimble speech]

Saturday 12 December 1998 ?
David Trimble, then First Minister designate, said the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons would have to be carried out in front of television cameras so that ordinary people could believe it had taken place.

Sunday 13 December 1998 ?
It was reported that there had been a General Army Convention of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) which had taken the decision that there would be no decommissioning of firearms or explosives.

Monday 14 December
UKUP Split

Four of the five members of the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP) left the party and accused the leader, Robert (Bob) McCartney, of branding his colleagues as politically immature. [The four members went on to form the Northern Ireland Unionist Party (NIUP). The NIUP members claimed that McCartney intended to take the UKUP out of the Assembly if Sinn Féin (SF) were allowed to join an Executive. The loss of four Assembly members meant that the UKUP lost some of its privileges at the Northern Ireland Assembly such as the right to sit on the front benches.] Gerry Kelly, a SF Assembly member, accused Unionists of trying to push the Irish Republican Army (IRA) back to war.

Friday 18 December 1998
Agreement on Government Departments and Cross-Border Bodies

In a significant breakthrough in the implementation of the Belfast Agreement, six new North-South administrative bodies and an increase from six to 10 ministries in Northern Ireland were agreed after 18 hours of negotiations between the Northern parties. The six North South bodies will cover inland waterways, agriculture, food safety, the Irish and Ulster-Scots languages, European Union funding programmes, and trade and business development. The First Minister designate and Deputy First Minister designate issued a joint statement on what had been agreed.
The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) handed over some weapons to be destroyed to the International Decommissioning Body. The LVF was the first paramilitary group to voluntarily hand over its weapons.

19 December 1998
At a meeting in Belfast the executive of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) backed the deal done on Government departments and the North South Ministerial Council. However the executive again called for decommissioning of paramilitary weapons.


1999

Sunday 3 January 1999
Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), said there should be a speedy resolution of the problems surrounding decommissioning.

Tuesday 5 January 1999
Four of the five Assembly members for the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP) who had left the party on 14 December 1998 announced that they were forming the Northern Ireland Unionist Party (NIUP).

Wednesday 6 January 1999
The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) argued over the implementation of the pre-Christmas arrangement on government departments and North-South bodies. The UUP wanted the Northern Ireland Assembly to "take note" of the agreement, whereas the SDLP wanted the two parties to approve and accept it.
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) published a New Year Message in An Phoblacht/Republican News in which they said that the Good Friday Agreement had failed to deliver meaningful change and that Unionists were pursuing conditions that had contributed to the breakdown of the 1994 ceasefire.

Wednesday 13 January 1999
Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said the government was prepared to implement devolution to the Northern Ireland Assembly on 10 March 1999 if the parties could agree on the way forward.

Monday 18 January 1999
The Northern Ireland Assembly debated the proposed structures of government and the arrangements for the North-South bodies.

Monday 25 January 1999
Gerry Adams, then Sinn Fein president, and Martin McGuinness, then SF chief negotiator, did not turn up for a meeting with Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, about the upsurge in paramilitary punishment attacks. Bairbre de Brún and Alex Maskey attended on behalf of SF.

Wednesday 27 January 1999
The IRA informer and author Eamon Collins was found dead on the outskirts of Newry, Co Down, near his home.

Saturday/Sunday 6/7 February 1999
There was concern for the future of the Northern peace process with Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, conceding that the deadline for the devolution of powers could be missed.

Saturday/Sunday 13/14 February 1999
Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), was involved in controversy after making apparently contradictory statements about the decommissioning of IRA arms. In an interview with the Sunday Times, Ahern indicated that the Northern Ireland Executive could not be established without a start to decommissioning. Later, he said Sinn Féin (SF) should not be barred from the executive in the absence of any weapons handover.

Tuesday 16 February 1999
A report containing proposals for structures of government were put before the Northern Ireland Assembly by David Trimble, then First Minister Designate, and Seamus Mallon, then Deputy First Minister Designate. The report was endorsed by 77 votes to 29 votes. [10 March 1999 was set as the deadline to establish the proposed Executive. This was later postponed to 2 April 1999 (Good Friday).]

Wednesday 24 February 1999
A Co Armagh man, Colm Murphy (48), was charged at the Special Criminal Court in connection with the Omagh bombing on August 15th last year, in which 29 people died.

Saturday/Sunday 27/28 February 1999
Northern Ireland's First Minister, David Trimble, warned Republicans that he intends to press for the transfer of powers to a new Executive, even without Sinn Féin (SF) participation.

Wednesday 3 March 1999
Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, signalled her willingness to delay the triggering of devolution until the end of March, although she warned against excessive delay in creating an Executive. Her comments came as Séamus Mallon, then Deputy First Minister Designate, called on the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to make a statement indicating that its campaign of violence was over. This would help to break the logjam over the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons, he suggested. The Red Hand Defenders and the Orange Volunteers, loyalist paramilitary organisations responsible for attacks in recent months, including two murders, were banned by the Secretary of State. Mowlam also announced that she had accepted the INLA's six-month ceasefire as complete and unequivocal.

Thursday 4 March 1999
Final details of four new British-Irish treaties were agreed between Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), and David Trimble, then First Minister Designate. The treaties provide for the establishment, in principle, of North-South bodies and other institutions in the Good Friday Agreement. The principal treaty sets up the six North-South implementation bodies which were agreed before Christmas. The other one-page treaties allow for the setting up of the North-South ministerial council, the British-Irish council and the new British-Irish inter-governmental conference.

Saturday/Sunday 6/7 March 1999
Senior Ulster Unionist figures said there was no secret deal which would let Sinn Féin (SF) into the power-sharing executive without prior decommissioning by the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

Monday 8 March 1999
David Trimble, then First Minister Designate, reacted angrily to Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam's, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announcement extending the deadline for the creation of the Northern Ireland Executive until Easter week. In Dublin Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), met with Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), in Government Buildings.

Wednesday 10 March 1999
Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) issued a statement on the present state of the peace process and the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

Monday 15 March 1999
Rosemary Nelson Killed
Ms Rosemary Nelson, a Lurgan solicitor, was killed by a boobytrap car bomb in Lurgan, Co Armagh. The Red Hand Defenders, a loyalist paramilitary group, claimed responsibility for the murder. Ms Nelson, who had represented nationalist clients in several high-profile cases and had a reputation as a human rights lawyer, had complained of loyalist paramilitary and RUC threats against her.

Tuesday 16 March 1999
Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), who was in Washington, said the relationship between Irish Republican Army (IRA) decommissioning and the setting up of the Northern Executive was the one remaining difficulty. He indicated to the leader of the political parties in Northern Ireland that he expected them to meet the 2 April 1998 deadline for the implementation of institutions encompassed in the Good Friday Agreement.

Wednesday 17 March 1999
On St Patrick's Day, President Clinton urged Northern party leaders to lift their sights above short-term difficulties when he was presented with shamrock by Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), at the White House.

Thursday 18 March 1999
Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, and Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America (USA), issued a tripartite statement. They urged the leaders of political parties in Northern Ireland to meet the deadline set for all aspects of the Good Friday Agreement.

Saturday 20 March 1999
In a speech to the Annual General Meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council, David Trimble, then First Minister Designate, assured delegates that there would be Irish Republican Army (IRA) decommissioning. His supporters dominated the election to the vice presidents' positions, but three of the four honorary secretaries elected were supporters of the dissident Union First group.

Wednesday 24 March 1999
It emerged at the summit Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), and Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, were likely to travel to Belfast for talks on the political crisis, following two meetings at the summit.

Monday 29 March 1999
The Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister met at Hillsborough Castle for the opening round of meetings on decommissioning of paramilitary weapons.

Tuesday 30 March 1999
Talks between Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, and Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), continued in Belfast. Efforts were being made to incorporate guarantees from Seamus Mallon, then Deputy First Minister Designate, that the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) would co-operate in excluding Sinn Féin (SF) from government if decommissioning failed to take place by a specific date.

Wednesday 31 March 1999
Participants in the talks in Belfast reported some progress following the issuing of the Irish Republican Army's (IRA) Easter statement which said: "we wholeheartedly support efforts to secure a lasting resolution to the conflict".

Thursday 1 April 1999
Hillsborough Declaration
The multi-party talks at Hillsborough came to an end with a call for the proposed Executive to be established within three weeks. The Hillsborough Declaration was agreed by Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, and Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister). The Declaration set out a framework for progress towards establishing the Executive. [The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) was insisting that there should be decommissioning of arms by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) before Sinn Féin (SF) could sit on an Executive. SF said that it could not deliver decommissioning before the Executive was formed.]

Sunday 4 April 1999
In his Easter Sunday address Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), praised the IRA's "commitment" to searching for a peaceful settlement. He said the Hillsborough Declaration of the previous week "may have merit, but it may also be counterproductive if it amounts to an ultimatum to armed groups."

Wednesday 7 April 1999
Martin McGuinness, then Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), said the Irish Republican Army (IRA) would not accept decommissioning as a precondition to his party's entry into a power-sharing Executive in Northern Ireland.

Tuesday 13 April 1999
Efforts to break the deadlock over decommissioning resumed at Stormont with a series of meetings, including a round table session involving all the parties supporting the Good Friday Agreement.
Prior to the resumption of talks, Mitchell McLaughlin, then Sinn Féin chairman issued a statement claiming that the Hillsborough Declaration of 1 April moves away from the Good Friday Agreement and as such, was formally rejected by Sinn Féin.

Wednesday 14 April 1999
The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ms Liz O'Donnell, acknowledged the Hillsborough Declaration would not be the basis for resolving the decommissioning impasse.

Thursday 15 April 1999
Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, and Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), held talks in London on the Northern peace process. They announced a series of bilateral talks in London for Monday 19 April 1999 aimed at breaking the deadlock over decommissioning.

Monday 19 April 1999
Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, and Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), held an intensive round of negotiations in Downing Street with the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), Sinn Féin (SF), and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). The talks failed to achieve a breakthrough on decommissioning and the implementation of the Executive.

Thursday 6 May 1999
The Ulster Volunteer Force was said to be anxious to see permanent disarmament. It marked a dramatic shift from saying it might never decommission its weapons.

Saturday/Sunday 8/9 May 1999
Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), addressed the party's Ardfheis and stressed his organisation's aims as liberation, emancipation and empowerment.

Saturday 15 May 1999
Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, announced an "absolute" deadline of 30 June 1999 for the formation of an Executive and the devolution of power to the Assembly. His decision to set a new deadline followed the failure of the Assembly members of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) to approve proposals thought to have been agreed by David Trimble, then leader of the UUP, with the Irish Government, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and Sinn Féin. [The proposals would have seen the d'Hondt procedure for the appointment of ministers in a power-sharing executive triggered in the coming week, with full devolution achieved by the end of June, following a report on "progress" on decommissioning by Gen John de Chastelain.]

Monday 17 May 1999
The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) issued a blunt warning that it would not change its position on decommissioning before, during or after next month's European election. David Trimble, then First Minister designate, challenged Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, to state whether, in the British government's view, devolution could proceed without the start of "actual decommissioning".

Tuesday 18 May 1999
The Ulster Unionist Party leader, David Trimble, reiterated his party's position on IRA decommissioning as the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, called the North's party leaders back to Downing Street. After the one-hour meeting, UUP party sources indicated that Mr Trimble would propose that potential ministers in an executive would be "identified", though not "nominated".

Tuesday 8 June 1999
Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, and Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), announced a series of intensive talks in a final attempt to break the deadlock in the Northern Ireland talks before the 30 June 1999 deadline.

Thursday 10 June 1999
The deputy leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, John Taylor, threatened to resign twice in the past fortnight in a dispute over his refusal to endorse the party's candidate, Jim Nicholson, in the European Parliament election. The turnout was predicted at 50 per cent at the close of polling in the North.

Monday 14 June 1999
European Election

The results saw Ulster Unionist Party MEP, Jim Nicholson, retain his seat despite a sharp drop in party support, and a strong challenge from Sinn Féin's Mitchel McLaughlin. The Democratic Unionist leader, the Rev Ian Paisley, and John Hume of the SDLP also retained their seats, with Dr Paisley topping the poll in the constituency for the fifth time.

Tuesday 15 June 1999
Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), said the Irish and British governments would "set aside" the Good Friday Agreement and seek alternative means of political progress if a breakthrough was not made by 30 June 1999. Ahern told the Dáil the decommissioning issue had now been "debated to death". In a speech at Stranmillis College, Belfast, Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, said the governments would "have to look for another way forward" if the devolution deadline were missed.

Saturday 19 June 1999
David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), invited Jeffrey Donaldson, a critic of the Good Friday Agreement, to rejoin his talks team in preparation for meetings with the British and Irish governments over the 30 June 1999 devolution deadline. The move seemed to dispel hopes in London and Dublin that the UUP leader might be persuaded to form the Northern Ireland Executive without a hard and fast agreement on IRA decommissioning.

Tuesday 22 June 1999
Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), said the Northern Ireland Executive must be established before paramilitary weapons were decommissioned. Ahern said it would be possible to persuade paramilitaries to disarm only "in the context of a confidence in functioning democratic institutions".

Wednesday 23 June 1999
Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, put pressure on the paramilitaries in the peace talks by demanding "an absolute commitment to decommissioning". Blair's comments followed confirmation that the head of the International Commission, Gen John de Chastelain, had been asked to produce a report on the arms issue by Tuesday.

Sunday 27 June 1999
David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), challenged Sinn Féin (SF) to get a pledge from the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to disarm by May 2000. But SF's chief negotiator, Martin McGuinness, said he could not speak on behalf of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Seamus Mallon, then deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), interpreted Trimble's challenge as indicating an acceptance that the demand for prior disarmament would not be met.

Monday 28 June 1999
The Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister were preparing for a "final push" to end the impasse over decommissioning and the formation of an executive.

Tuesday 29 June 1999
Although the British and Irish governments gave an upbeat assessment, spokespersons for the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and Sinn Féin (SF) were cautious about the degree of progress that had been made in the multi-party talks. [Official sources suggested substantial progress had been made in the talks. SF was said to have hardened its verbal commitment to the principle of decommissioning and to using its influence to persuade the IRA to dispose of weapons in the context of the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.]

Wednesday 30 June 1999
The "absolute deadline" set by Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, passed without the establishment of the Executive. The Prime Minister agreed to an extension.
Sinn Féin published a document called Breaking the impasse: A Sinn Féin declaration.

Thursday 1 July 1999
Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, claimed that the Stormont talks had brought "seismic shifts" in the political landscape of Northern Ireland. However, the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) continued to insist that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) should decommission its weapons and explosives in parallel with the creation of the Northern Ireland Executive. Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) sources also believed a possible solution was emerging.

Friday 2 July 1999
After five days of discussions between the British and Irish Governments at Stormont, the two governments issued a document called The Way Forward outlining a way forward to establish an inclusive Executive, and to decommission arms.
The Independent International Commission on Decommissioning issued its report.

Sunday 4 July 1999
Drumcree Parade - 'Drumcree V'

For the fifth year in a row attention was focused on the Orange Order parade at Drumcree, Portadown, County Armagh. The Orange Order was refused permission to parade down the mainly Catholic Garvaghy Road. The security forces had erected a steel barricade across the road to halt the march but the subsequent protest passed off relatively quietly compared to previous years.
Following 'The Way Forward' joint statement by Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, and Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), the two prime ministers called on the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to make a statement to ease unionist fears over decommissioning. Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, published an article in The Times newspaper.

Monday 5 July 1999
Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, maintained pressure on David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), to accept the proposals in 'The Way Forward' document to resolve the decommissioning crisis. He also published an article in The Belfast Telegraph newspaper.
The IRA leadership was reported to have had a meeting in Dublin to discuss a response to the document. However, there was no indication that the organisation was preparing any move to begin disarming.

Tuesday 6 July 1999
Reliable republican sources said the Provisional IRA had drawn up an inventory of its weapons which it may present to the international body on decommissioning chaired by Gen John de Chastelain.
David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), published an article in the Belfast Telegraph stating that the Ulster Unionists would not reject the 'Way Forward' document without consideration, but that they would require further reassurances.

Thursday 8 July 1999
A conflict arose between Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, and Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), over whether Sinn Féin (SF) was now a separate organisation from the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Ahern said they were two separate organisations but senior police sources on both sides of the Border supported Blair's stated view that the two organisations were "inextricably linked".

Saturday/Sunday 10/11 July 1999
Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), held a meeting with David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), at Government Buildings in Dublin. Ahern stated that if the Irish Republican Army (IRA) failed to deliver on decommissioning, the Executive would be suspended and a review would take place. Ahern rejected a UUP demand to expel Sinn Féin (SF) if arms were not given up.

Monday 12 July 1999
Legislation was put before the Westminster Parliament, designed to act as a safeguard for the decommissioning of arms and the devolution of power in Northern Ireland.
Across Northern Ireland the Twelfth parades passed off without incident.

Tuesday 13 July 1999
David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), failed to win any concessions from the British government on its failsafe legislation in the House of Commons.

Wednesday 14 July 1999
The peace process was plunged into crisis when the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) challenged the authority and prestige of Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister. David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), indicated after a meeting of the UUP executive that he would not participate in the d'Hondt procedure to appoint ministers to the North's proposed power-sharing Executive.
Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF) published an article in the Irish News stating that his party was against the safeguard legislation introduced on 12 July and that it is unnecessary under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Thursday 15 July 1999
Attempt to Form Executive
The attempt to form the Executive of the Northern Ireland Assembly collapsed when David Trimble, then First Minister Designate, and the other Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Assembly members failed to attend the sitting. [An article written by David Trimble on Decommissioning was published in the Irish Times Newspaper.] An Executive of Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and Sinn Féin (SF) was formed for a few moments, but was then disbanded because it did not have cross-community participation. Seamus Mallon then tendered his resignation from the position of Deputy First Minister designate. [Mallon was reinstated on 29 November 1999.]

Saturday 17 July 1999
It was announced that the former Northern Ireland talks chairman, Senator George Mitchell, had been invited to take part in a summit meeting on the peace process between the Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister.

Tuesday 20 July 1999
Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), attempted to mend deteriorating relations with David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), at informal talks in London. A meeting between Ahern and the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was also arranged to confirm that Senator George Mitchell will chair the review of the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, triggered by the failure of the previous week to appoint a power-sharing executive.

Wednesday 21 July 1999
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a statement rejecting demands for it to decommission its arsenal "in the current political context", but confirmed its "definitive commitment" to the success of the peace process. While it did not rule out the prospect of decommissioning, the IRA declined to confirm whether it supported the Sinn Féin (SF) initiative in signing up to the principle that it should take place before May 2000.

Wednesday 28 July 1999
Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, retained her position in a British government reshuffle that left all but one member of Tony Blair's cabinet in place.

Thursday 29 July 1999
Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), said the current setback in the peace process was "not a blip but the possible meltdown of the political conditions that led to the [Belfast] agreement".

Saturday/Sunday 31 July/1 August 1999
Security forces continued investigations into last week's murder of Charles Bennett in Belfast and the attempt to import high powered weapons by post from Florida. Sinn Féin insisted the IRA ceasefire remained intact.

Tuesday 3 August 1999
Security sources confirmed that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was responsible for the death of Charles Bennett. Republican sources claimed he was killed to pacify hardliners over decommissioning and the lack of political progress.

Saturday/Sunday 7/8 August 1999
The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) confirmed its view of the futility of continuing the "armed struggle" but insisted it was not about to begin decommissioning its weapons.

Monday 9 August 1999
The Northern Ireland Parades Commission decided to allow an Apprentice Boys march down the lower Ormeau Road, Belfast, despite Nationalist condemnation.

Saturday 14 August 1999
There was violence in Derry and Belfast following Apprentice Boys parades through the Bogside and lower Ormeau Road.

Tuesday 17 August 1999
Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, met with Martin McGuinness, then Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), at Stormont. She was seeking further information from US and Irish authorities on the attempt to import arms from Florida and the recent murder in west Belfast of Charles Bennett, before deciding if the Irish Republican Army (IRA) broke the ceasefire.

Saturday/Sunday 21/22 August 1999
David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), said the UUP was correct not to form a power-sharing government in July in light of the subsequent killing of a Belfast taxi driver, Charles Bennett, and the uncovering of a Florida-based gun-smuggling operation.

Monday 23 August 1999
David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), speaking at the Omagh International Summer School, expressed disappointment that the Good Friday Agreement was bogged down in dissension. He said there was no resistance within his Assembly party to setting up a fully inclusive executive, providing decommissioning took place. He restated his willingness to "jump together" with Sinn Féin (SF) in forming an Executive.

Thursday 26 August 1999
Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, ruled that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire had not broken down. However, she said she was in no doubt the IRA was involved in the murder of Mr Bennett and said there was clear information about the organisation being implicated in the Florida gun-running operation.

Tuesday 31 August 1999
Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, resisted Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) demands for a postponement of the review of the Good Friday Agreement. He made it clear to Mr Trimble that he supported Dr Mowlam's decision that the IRA ceasefire was still intact.

Monday 6 September 1999
Start of Review of Good Friday Agreement
George Mitchell, former Chairman of the multi-party talks, was in Castle Buildings to open the review of the Good Friday Agreement. He made clear that the review would concentrate specifically on breaking the deadlock over decommissioning and the formation of an executive. The talks adjourned until the following week to give politicians time to study the Patten report on policing.

Thursday 9 September 1999
Patten Report Published
The Patten Commission on Policing in Northern Ireland released its recommendations for a radical overhaul of the police service. The proposed changes to the ethos, composition, training and structure of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) met with a mixed reaction.

David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), described it as "the most shoddy piece of work I have seen in my entire life", and there were strong objections from rank-and-file RUC officers. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and Sinn Féin (SF) were prepared to view the document positively.

Monday 13 September 1999
The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) executive set up a committee to devise an alternative to the Patten proposals for policing in Northern Ireland. David Trimble, then leader of the UUP, dismissed threats to his leadership and said his party would continue to be involved in the Mitchell review of the Good Friday Agreement.

Thursday 23 September 1999
Sinn Féin published its submission to the Mitchell Review.

Saturday/Sunday 25/26 September 1999
The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Assembly members held a meeting in Glasgow. The Ulster Unionist MP, Ken Maginnis, said the meeting was not an attempt to discuss a change of policy on IRA decommissioning. He insisted that tactics in the Assembly, not overall party strategy, had been discussed.

Monday 4 October 1999
Talks between David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), broke up without any progress in advance of the Mitchell review. Decommissioning remained the main issue preventing the UUP from accepting SF's participation in the new Northern Ireland Executive.

Friday 8 October
The Ulster Unionist Party published the document 'Implementing the Agreement' which discussed the extent to which the Belfast Agreement had been implemented and the extent to which the different parties recognised their obligations and complied with the requirements of the Agreement.

Saturday/Sunday 9/10 October 1999
David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), faced down his critics and defended the Good Friday Agreement at the UUP conference in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh. Anti-agreement dissidents within the party warned the conference against any compromise on Sinn Féin's entry into the Executive without prior decommissioning. The conference unanimously passed a motion dismissing the Patten recommendations on the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) as a threat to security.

Monday 11 October 1999
The Northern Ireland Secretary of State for the last two and-a-half years, Dr Mo Mowlam, was replaced in a Cabinet reshuffle by Peter Mandelson. Although thought "too green" in her political leanings, Dr Mowlam insisted she had not been forced out by unionists. Mr Mandelson's name was first suggested for the position last summer by UUP leader David Trimble.

Saturday/Sunday 16/17 October 1999
A statement released in Belfast by Sinn Féin party leader, Gerry Adams, reiterated Sinn Féin's commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and said republicans needed to address the concerns of unionists in a spirit of respect and goodwill.
The Progressive Unionist Party's (PUP) annual conference in east Belfast heard party leader, Hugh Smyth, ask Sinn Féin (SF) to state the war is over and there would be no first strike from SF. Mr Smyth said this would match what the loyalist paramilitaries had said. Billy Hutchinson, who acts as interlocutor for the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and the Red Hand Commando (RHC) with the international decommissioning body, made a similar plea to republicans.

Saturday 23 October 1999
Senator George Mitchell announced his review of the Good Friday Agreement would be extended as the pro-Agreement parties met at Castle Buildings, Stormont, Belfast. Sinn Féin (SF), the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) were attempting to end the stalemate over decommissioning and the formation of an Executive.

Thursday 28 October 1999
David Trimble and Gerry Adams continued discussions at Castle Buildings, Stormont, searching for a way out of the decommissioning logjam. They have been trying to put together a package of confidence building steps between their two parties to ensure the success of the Mitchell review.

Saturday 6 November 1999
John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), delivered his 20th annual leader's address to the party's annual conference in Belfast. He said SDLP policies of negotiation, partnership and reconciliation had a major influence in bringing about the Good Friday agreement.

Sunday 7 November
The deputy leader, Séamus Mallon, delivered his address to the party's annual conference in Belfast, and called on Sinn Féin and the Ulster Unionist Party to end their "miserable dispute" over decommissioning and devolution.

Thursday 11 November 1999
Talks at Stormont continued on a proposed deal which would include a Sinn Féin statement condemning violence and the appointment of an IRA interlocutor to negotiate with Gen John de Chastelain's body on decommissioning. But unionist opponents of the proposal said it failed to guarantee short-term decommissioning.

Monday 15 November 1999
Both Senator George Mitchell and Gen John de Chastelain issued statements which indicated that a formula to overcome the decommissioning and devolution impasse was close at hand.

Tuesday 16 November 1999
The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) issued a statement and Sinn Féin (SF) issued a statement committing themselves to the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. David Trimble, then leader of the UUP, recognised the legitimate aspirations of Nationalists to pursue a united Ireland and embraced the principles of inclusivity, equality and mutual respect. Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), spoke of working with, not against, Unionists in the future. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and other main political parties in Northern Ireland all issued statements endorsing the Good Friday Agreement.

Wednesday 17 November 1999
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a four-paragraph statement saying it was committed to peace and acknowledged that the Good Friday Agreement would contribute to a lasting peace. It endorsed the leadership of Sinn Féin (SF) in the negotiations and agreed to nominate a representative to enter discussions with Gen John de Chastelain.

Thursday 18 November 1999
End of Review of Good Friday Agreement

After 10 weeks of painstaking negotiations between the pro-agreement parties in Northern Ireland, Senator George Mitchell returned to the United States after issuing a report on his review. He concluded that the basis now existed for devolution to occur and the formation of an executive to take place. Before leaving Northern Ireland, the senator was thanked during a press conference in Castle Buildings by all the participants and parties involved.
The British Government issued a statement, expressing gratitude for Senator Mitchell's help in transforming the Northern Ireland situation from one of conflict and confrontation to one of dialogue and peace.

Monday 22 November 1999
Peter Mandelson, then Northern Ireland Secretary, in a speech to the House of Commons, said he planned for success and not failure on Northern Ireland. However, if there was a default in implementing either decommissioning or devolution, the two governments would take steps to suspend the operation of the institutions. He said Northern Ireland stood on the brink of a "remarkable transformation". David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), addressed senior members of his party at a private meeting in Stormont in advance of Saturday's crucial meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council.

Tuesday 23 November 1999
The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) was awarded the George Cross, Britain's highest civilian award for gallantry. The British government rejected suggestions that the timing of the award was designed to placate unionists and the RUC at a time when the force is facing major change.
The Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) issued a statement saying that the leadership had decided to defer its decision on the appointment of an interlocutor to liaise with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) until after the IRA has met its commitments.

Thursday 25 November 1999
In an interview with The Irish Times, David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), acknowledged Unionist concerns about accepting the Mitchell review as an open-ended process. He promised his party that its entry into government with Sinn Féin (SF) could be time-limited to ensure decommissioning followed devolution, tied in with the developing role of the de Chastelain International Decommissioning Commission. He criticised the "dirty tricks" of Unionist hardliners over a bogus SF letter to Ulster Unionist Council members ahead of the council's meeting to vote on the Mitchell review.

27 November 1999
The Council of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) held a meeting in the Waterfront Hall, Belfast, to discuss the Mitchell Review. The Council decided by 480 votes to 349 to back the deal.

Monday 29 November 1999
There was a meeting of the Northern Ireland Assembly. Seamus Mallon, then deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), was reinstated as Deputy First Minister Designate. The d'Hondt procedure for the appointment of ministers in a power-sharing Executive was triggered and 10 ministers appointed. [This was the first time in 25 years that Northern Ireland had a power-sharing Executive.]

Tuesday 30 November 1999
The House of Lords and the House of Commons both approved a devolution order under the Northern Ireland Act 1998 that allowed for the transfer of power from Westminster to the Assembly at Stormont. [This allowed for the ending the system of 'Direct Rule' that had been installed in 1972.]

Thursday 2 December 1999
New Devolved Government
Direct Rule came to an end as powers were devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly. [Devolution took effect as of midnight on 1 December 1999.] At a meeting in Dublin at 9.00am the North-South Ministerial Council and the British-Irish Ministerial Council, as set out in the Good Friday Agreement, took effect. At the same time the Anglo-Irish Agreement was replaced by the British-Irish Agreement. At 9.20am Articles 2 and 3 of the Irish Constitution were replaced by new Articles. Both Peter Mandelson, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and David Andrews, then Irish Foreign Minister, made statements on the developments. At 3.00pm the new Executive of the Northern Ireland Assembly met for the first time. Present at the meeting were representatives of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and Sinn Féin (SF). The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) refused to attend. At 8.30pm the IRA issued a statement indicating that it would appoint a representative to meet the Decommissioning Body chaired by General de Chastelain. [The new devolved government was suspended on midnight 11 February 2000 and direct rule re-introduced. The suspension covered the Northern Ireland Assembly, Executive, and other Institutions.]


for more recent events see the draft chronologies for 2000 and 2001


CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within the University of Ulster.


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