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Thursday, March 18, 1999 Published at 17:01 GMT


1968-69: The troops are sent in

British troops take to the streets of Northern Ireland, 1969

Civil rights The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association organises protests in August against anti-Catholic discrimination over housing.


[ image: The RUC clashes with civil rights protestors]
The RUC clashes with civil rights protestors
A civil rights march in Derry on October 5 is broken up by RUC officers wielding batons. TV cameras capture images of police brutality. MP Gerry Fitt is among the injured. Riots follow in the Catholic Bogside.

People's Democracy A march by Queen's University students on October 9 is blocked by loyalists. A radical left-wing group, People's Democracy, is formed. One of its original members is Bernadette Devlin.

Reforms Northern Ireland Prime Minister Terence O'Neill is summoned to London by British PM Harold Wilson to discuss the mounting crisis on November 4.

On the 27th, O'Neill puts forward a five-point plan: fairer allocation of housing, an Ombudsman, an end to company votes in council elections, a review of the Special Powers Act and a Londonderry Development Corporation.

'At the crossroads' An NICRA march in November is opposed by an illegal protest led by the Rev Ian Paisley, who is later jailed for unlawful assembly.

O'Neill goes on TV in early December, saying the people that "Ulster stands at the crossroads" and appealing for calm. Home Affairs minister William Craig, criticises him and resigns.

Bogside no-go People's Democracy organises a march from Belfast to Derry. It is small but designed to draw attention to itself as much of the route is through Protestant territory and is accompanied by the media. On January 4, 1969, it is attacked by larger numbers of loyalists using sticks and stones at Burntollet bridge.

The police fail to protect the marchers and that evening RUC Reservists break doors and windows in the Catholic Bogside. Residents create a local citizens' army, making the Bogside a police no-go area.

Wilson intervenes
[ image: Harold Wilson, keen for reform to move forward]
Harold Wilson, keen for reform to move forward
British PM Harold Wilson tells Northern Ireland that reform is not moving quickly enough.

Elections O'Neill holds a general election on February 24 and is returned to office, but lacks an overwhelming mandate for reform.

Bernadette Devlin (later McAliskey) wins Mid-Ulster by-election for Unity on a socialist platform on April 18.

O'Neill falls Four founding members of NICRA resign in March over extremist infiltration. In April, a series of explosions are said by the RUC to be the work of an IRA plan and British troops are sent.

The explosions are later proved to have been carried out by loyalists but Unionists believe concessions are encouraging terrorism and force O'Neill to resign on April 28. He is replaced by James Chichester-Clark.

Battle of the Bogside Protracted rioting throughout the province in July and August stretches the RUC to the limit. The worst trouble occurs after an Apprentice Boys parade in Londonderry on August 12.


[ image: A British soldier accepts a welcome flask of tea]
A British soldier accepts a welcome flask of tea
The British Army is ordered in to the city's Catholic Bogside area and to Belfast - the troops are welcomed by Catholic residents.

Loyalist backlash The Hunt report recommends the disarming of the RUC, the abolition of the Ulster Special Constabulary and the setting-up of the Ulster Defence Regiment under Army control.

Belfast loyalists respond on October 12 by clashing with troops in the Shankill road - three people, one an RUC officer, are killed.

IRA splits The IRA splits in December 1969 into two wings - the more marxist Official IRA and the more hardline Provisionals.



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In this section

1997-98: Second IRA ceasefire to the Nobel Peace Prize

1995-96: Clinton's visit and the end of the IRA ceasefire

1993-94 The Downing Street Declaration and the IRA ceasefire

1990-92: Start of the talks process

1988-89: Gibraltar killings and release of the Guildford Four

1985-87: The Anglo-Irish Agreement

1981-84: Hunger strikes and the Brighton bomb

1976-80: The violence continues

1972-75: The failure of Sunningdale

1970-72: Internment and Bloody Sunday

1968-69: The troops are sent in

1939-67: Relative calm before the storm

1923-38: The fixing of the Irish border

1921-22: The Irish Free State and civil war

1917-20: The road to partition

1910-16: The 'winning' of Home Rule to the Easter Rebellion

1850-1909: Parnell, Gladstone and the battle for Home Rule

1695-1850: A time of revolution and the Great Famine

1170-1691: From Strongbow to the establishment of Protestant ascendancy