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Tuesday, March 16, 1999 Published at 14:46 GMT


1993-94 The Downing Street Declaration and the IRA ceasefire

Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness celebrate the IRA ceasefire

Warrington bomb
[ image: A shop security camera captures the public's panic as the Warrington bomb explodes]
A shop security camera captures the public's panic as the Warrington bomb explodes
An IRA bomb kills two children - Jonathan Ball and Tim Parry - in Warrington, Cheshire, on March 20 1993. Reaction to the deaths leads to the formation of Peace Initiative '93, aided by Colin Parry, father of one of the victims.

Hume-Adams talks SDLP leader John Hume meets Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams in April at the request of Catholic churchmen. The contacts continue through the year.

Bishopsgate bomb
[ image: A bomb blasts rips out the heart of Bishopgate in London's financial district]
A bomb blasts rips out the heart of Bishopgate in London's financial district
An IRA bomb in the City of London causes 350m worth of damage on April 24.

Irish President Mary Robinson visits the Queen at Buckingham Palace on May 27, the first meeting between the two countries' heads of state since 1937.

In June, she pays an unofficial visit to community groups in Belfast and meets Gerry Adams.

Hume-Adams talks John Hume meets Prime Minister John Major at Downing Street on September 16, saying afterwards he did not care "two balls of roasted snow" about reaction to his talks with Adams.

Unionists oppose the contacts and say they are wrecking the chances of further inter-party talks, but later in the month the pair announce considerable progress.

Violence An IRA bomb kills 10 people, including two children, at a fish and chip shop on the Shankill Road on October 23. Among the dead is one of the bombers.

Seven days later, the UFF shoot dead seven people and wound 13 at the Rising Sun bar in Greysteel, County Derry.

IRA contacts In November, it is revealed that the British government has had contacts with the IRA for years.

Northern Ireland Secretary Sir Patrick Mayhew admits some contacts, but Sinn Fein documents indicate more extensive talks. Mayhew eventually apologises for errors in the documents he laid before the House of Commons.

Downing Street Declaration
[ image: John Major and Albert Reynolds push the peace process forward]
John Major and Albert Reynolds push the peace process forward
John Major and the Irish Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, sign the declaration on December 15.

The deal says Sinn Fein can join talks on the future of Northern Ireland if the IRA renounces violence. Democratic loyalist parties can also take part if the paramilitary groups to which they are linked lay down their arms.

Much of the first months of 1994 are taken up with both Sinn Fein and loyalists seeking clarification of certain points in the Declaration. The Northern Ireland Office eventually supplies a "commentary".

Adams in the US The US gives Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams a visa. He visits in February and wins valuable publicity. The following month, President Clinton urges the IRA to lay down its arms.

Anti-terrorism blow A helicopter carrying 25 senior counter-terrorist experts from Northern Ireland crashes into a hill in the Mull of Kintyre on June 2, killing all on board.

Ceasefires On August 31, the IRA announces a "complete cessation of military operations". The statement is greeted by widespread celebrations in nationalist areas, though unionists point out that no mention is made of the truce being permanent.

On October 13, the Combined Loyalist Military Command announces a ceasefire.

New Taoiseach Albert Reynolds resigns on November 17 when Labour leaves his coalition and is replaced as Fianna Fail leader by Bertie Ahern.

Fine Gael's John Bruton is elected Taoiseach on December 15 at the head of a coalition government including Labour.

Formal contacts Sinn Fein meets British civil servants on December 9, 1994 for their first formal talks in 22 years.



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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