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Thursday, March 18, 1999 Published at 16:47 GMT


1990-92: Start of the talks process

A policeman clears Downing Street seconds after an IRA attack

Talks Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Brooke spends a lot of 1990 in discussions with unionists and nationalists. The former are opposed to the Anglo-Irish Agreement and in May Brooke says he might consider alternatives.

Negotiations are put on hold in October, but at the end of the year Brooke says real progress has been made.

Extradition The Irish Supreme Court rejects three British extradition requests in March and April, including that of former MP Owen Carron, who is accused of being an IRA leader.

British PM Margaret Thatcher described as furious and the Anglo-Irish Conference agrees in April to review procedures.

Winchester Three The convictions of three people found guilty in 1988 of plotting to murder then Northern Ireland Secretary Tom King are quashed on April 27.

MP killed
[ image: Ian Gow's car]
Ian Gow's car
Ian Gow, Conservative MP for Eastbourne and former Northern Ireland minister, is killed by an IRA bomb at his Sussex home on July 30.

Leaders Mary Robinson is elected the first female President of the Irish Republic on November 7.

Fifteen days later, Margaret Thatcher steps down as British Prime Minister after failing to win in the first round of a party leadership ballot. She is replaced by John Major.

Ceasefire The IRA calls a Christmas truce on December 23, the first such halt for 15 years.

Downing Street attack The IRA launches three mortar bombs at Number Ten during a Cabinet meeting on February 7, 1991. One explodes in the garden, but no-one is injured.

Birmingham Six
[ image: The Birmingham Six celebrate their release]
The Birmingham Six celebrate their release
The six Irishmen convicted of the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings are freed on March 14. The Court of Appeal rules there are doubts about the police evidence and the treatment of the six during questioning.

All-party talks After months of bilateral contacts, Northern Ireland's political parties meet at Stormont starting on June 17 to discuss the province's future. The discussions end on July 3.

Maguire Seven On June 26, the Appeal Court overturns the conviction of seven people found guilty of IRA bomb-making, including the devices used in the Guildford pub blasts.

Regiments to merge The Defence White Paper in July proposes the merger of the Royal Irish Rangers and the Ulster Defence Regiment. The latter has been much criticised by nationalists, but the government insists the reasons are military not political.

Reinforcements A wave of killings in Belfast in October and November prompts the despatch of 300 more regular soldiers and the calling up of 1,400 UDR reservists.

Bomb An IRA bomb kills eight Protestant builders on their way to work at an Army base near Omagh on January 17 1992.

Later that evening, Peter Brooke appears on an Irish TV chat show and sings My Darling Clementine. He faces strong criticism for insensitivity.

Haughey out Charles Haughey stands down and is replaced as Taoiseach by Albert Reynolds in February.

Betting shop attack Five Catholics are shot dead by loyalist gunmen at a betting shop in Belfast's Ormeau Road on February 5.

Nine days later, four IRA members are killed by security forces after an attack on Coalisland RUC station.

Election The Conservatives are returned to power in the 1992 general election on April 10. In Northern Ireland, the SDLP defeats Gerry Adams in West Belfast. Sir Patrick Mayhew becomes Northern Ireland Secretary.

Talks The four main constitutional parties - UUP, DUP, SDLP and the Alliance - meet at Stormont, starting on March 9. They reconvene after the election and stutter on until November, when the unionists withdraw.

Releases Judith Ward, convicted of an IRA bombing in Britain in 1974, is released on May 11 by the Appeal Court.

Three of the UDR Four have their murder convictions overturned on July 29.

New regiment The Royal Irish Regiment formally comes into being on July 1 as a result of the merger of the UDR and RIR.

Town bombings A series of IRA bombs goes off in town centres throughout the province in 1992, culminating in a blast in east Belfast which injures 27 people on December 1.



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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