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
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.
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
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.