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Thursday, March 18, 1999 Published at 17:06 GMT


1917-20: The road to partition

The newly-named IRA carried the fight to the British

Sinn Fein election success Starting in January 1917, a grouping of nationalists under the name Sinn Fein sweeps four by-elections - Roscommon, South Longford, East Clare and Kilkenny City - against the official Irish Parliamentary Party.

The East Clare poll is won by future Irish Prime Minister Eamon de Valera.

In July, he was among the remaining prisoners of the Easter Rising who had all been released to a tumultuous welcome in Dublin.

Irish Constitutional Convention On July 25, Prime Minister Lloyd George convenes a meeting to try to resolve the Home Rule problem. Sinn Fein does not attend and Unionists in the north and south disagree. The convention continues, but eventually fails in spring, 1918.

De Valera In October 1917, de Valera becomes president of Sinn Fein and decides to push for an independent republic.

Conscription With Germany launching its final great offensive in spring 1918, the British government considers extending conscription to Ireland. Official nationalists, Sinn Fein and the Catholic church unite at the Mansion House conference against the idea, which is dropped.

Post-war election In the general election of December 1918, Sinn Fein achieves a huge breakthrough, sweeping aside the IPP by 73 seats to six. The Ulster Unionists take 25 seats in the north.

Dail Eireann Sinn Fein boycotts Westminster, meeting instead at Dublin's Mansion House as the 'Dail Eireann', or Irish Parliament, from January 1919. De Valera elected 'president' of a uniliaterally declared independent republic.


[ image: Traps in isolated areas are a favoured tactic]
Traps in isolated areas are a favoured tactic
Violence While the Dail meets, two policemen escorting a cargo of explosives are killed by two Irish Volunteers.

This marks a new phase of the struggle and in a year, 14 Irish police are killed and 20 wounded by the Volunteers, who now call themselves the Irish Republican Army.

Banned Westminster declares the Dail Eireann illegal in September.


[ image: Their uniform gave them their name]
Their uniform gave them their name
Black and Tans With the Royal Irish Constabulary under pressure in January 1920, reinforcements begin to be recruited in England.

With a lack of normal uniforms, they are kitted out partially in khaki which leads to their nickname.

Soon after, a special Auxiliary force is created from former officers who served in the First World War.

They and the Black and Tans fight the IRA in an increasingly bloody cycle of reprisal and counter-reprisal.

Local elections Held in urban areas under a system of proportional representation, the polls confirm Sinn Fein dominance in 172 out of 206 boroughs and urban districts.

Riots worsen Sectarian violence escalates; in Belfast, 30 people are killed in August alone.


[ image: McSwiney's death creates a martyr]
McSwiney's death creates a martyr
Hunger strikes Sinn Fein's Michael Fitzgerald dies after a hunger strike.

He is followed by Tomas McSwiney, the Lord Mayor of Cork, after a 78-day fast in Brixton prison.


[ image: Michael Collins's plan for Bloody Sunday]
Michael Collins's plan for Bloody Sunday
First 'Bloody Sunday' The IRA kills 14 British undercover intelligence officers in a series of morning raids in Dublin on Sunday, November 21.


[ image: Black and Tans training]
Black and Tans training
Later the same day, soldiers and Black and Tans surround a football match at Croke Park in Dublin. Shooting breaks out and 12 people are killed.

And in the evening, two IRA men and a Sinn Fein supporter are killed in the guard-room of Dublin Castle.

Partition The Government of Ireland Act comes into force on December 23, 1920. It provides for two parliaments in Ireland - one in Belfast serving six counties and the other in Dublin for the remaining 26 counties. There would be a Council of Ireland to oversee common facilities.

Partition is accepted by Unionists but rejected by Nationalists. Carson steps down as Ulster Unionist leader and is succeeded by Sir James Craig in February 1921.





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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