Key events since IRA ceasefire

Here are some of the key episodes in the peace process since the IRA announced its historic ceasefire almost 11 years ago:

:: AUGUST 31, 1994: The IRA announces a “complete cessation of military operations“.

:: OCTOBER 13, 1994: The Combined Loyalist Military Command announces ceasefires by the UDA/UFF, UVF and Red Hand Commando.

:: JANUARY 24, 1996: A report by former US Senator George Mitchell calls for a commitment on all sides to peaceful and democratic means, the phasing-out of paramilitary weapons and elections prior to the opening of peace talks.

:: FEBRUARY 9, 1996: The IRA ceasefire ends as two people are killed when large bomb explodes at South Quay in London’s Docklands.

:: MAY 16, 1997: Newly-elected British Prime Minister Tony Blair, on his first engagement outside London, delivers a keynote speech in Belfast, warning republicans: “The settlement train is leaving. I want you on that train.”

:: JULY 20, 1997: The IRA announces a renewal of its ceasefire to enable Sinn Féin to enter talks at Stormont.

:: APRIL 10, 1998: The Good Friday Agreement is signed.

:: MAY 22, 1998: A majority of the people of Ireland, North and South endorse the Good Friday Agreement.

:: JUNE 25, 1998: Election to the Assembly sees the Ulster Unionists and the SDLP emerge as the largest parties.

:: AUGUST 15, 1998: 29 people are killed by the Real IRA in a car bomb in Omagh, the biggest single atrocity of the Troubles.

:: SEPTEMBER 11, 1998: First paramilitary prisoner is released under the Good Friday Agreement.

:: DECEMBER 10, 1998: SDLP leader John Hume and Ulster Unionist Party David Trimble share the Nobel Peace Prize.

:: SEPTEMBER 9, 1999: The Patten Commission recommends a complete overhaul of policing in the North.

:: DECEMBER 1999: Power is passed from Westminster to a power-sharing executive featuring Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness as Education Minister after 20 months of wrangle and delay.

:: FEBRUARY 11, 2000: Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson signs an order suspending the Assembly after a failure to secure IRA arms decommissioning.

:: MAY 30, 2000: Devolution is restored after First Minister David Trimble gets a pledge from republicans that they will begin a process to completely and verifiably put weapons beyond use.

:: JULY 1, 2001: David Trimble resigns again over the continuing arms impasse. A month later General John de Chastelain, head of the arms decommissioning body, says the IRA has put forward a disarmament plan.

:: AUGUST 10, 2001: With no sign that the IRA will actually decommission and no hint unionists will accept anything less, Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid suspends devolution for 24 hours, resetting the clock for a deal by six weeks.

:: SEPTEMBER 21, 2001: John Reid announces a second technical suspension saying it will be the last.

:: OCTOBER 2001: In the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks in the US and the arrest in August of three Irish republicans in Colombia, the IRA begins a process of putting its arms beyond use.

:: NOVEMBER 5, 2001: Devolution up and running again.

:: OCTOBER 4, 2002: Sinn Féin’s offices at Stormont are raided amid a major police investigation of alleged IRA intelligence gathering at the heart of government.

:: OCTOBER 14, 2002: John Reid announces suspension of devolution and the reintroduction of direct rule as republicans come under pressure to end to the twin track of democracy and paramilitarism.

:: MAY 1, 2003: Assembly elections are postponed due to uncertainly about the IRA’s willingness to end armed struggle and fully disarm.

:: OCTOBER 21, 2003: The rolling-out of a peace process deal involving the Ulster Unionists and Sinn Féin goes awry, with David Trimble withdrawing his contribution over the lack of detail given by decommissioning chief General John de Chastelain about the latest act of IRA disarmament.

:: NOVEMBER 26, 2003: Assembly elections see the Rev Ian Paisley’s DUP overtake the Ulster Unionists to become the North’s largest party and Sinn Féin coming out on top in nationalism.

:: DECEMBER 8, 2004: Talks aimed at achieving a previously unthinkable deal between the DUP and Sinn Féin collapse when the IRA refuses to give in to demands that the decommissioning of its entire arsenal should be photographed.

:: DECEMBER 21, 2004: A gang pull off a spectacular £26.5m (€38m)-plus robbery at the Northern Bank headquarters in Belfast city centre. The IRA is suspected.

:: JANUARY 30, 2005: Robert McCartney is beaten and fatally stabbed outside Magennis’s Bar in Belfast city centre. His family claims he was killed by the IRA which later suspends members as republicans come under international pressure to wind down the Provisionals for good.

:: APRIL 6, 2005: Gerry Adams challenges the IRA to abandon the gun and embrace politics. The Provisionals embark on a debate 20 days later.

:: JULY 27: The British government frees Shankill bomber Sean Kelly from Maghaberry Prison, a month after having his early release licence revoked by Northern Ireland Peter Hain, in anticipation of an IRA statement.

:: JULY 28: The IRA orders an end to its armed campaign. The Provisionals confirm their armed struggle will end from 4pm and that all IRA units have been ordered to dump arms.

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