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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 9 April, 2003, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
Northern Ireland chronology: 2000
The key events in Northern Ireland during 2000. Click on the menu for other years.

19 January 2000: As the Assembly members and ministers settle into governing Northern Ireland, the Secretary of State, Peter Mandelson, tells the House of Commons that he endorses the Patten Commission proposals on policing reform.

31 January 2000: Amid growing tension over arms decommissioning, General John de Chastelain delivers his report on the prospects for decommissioning to the British and Irish governments after meeting the IRA's representative earlier that day.

3 February 2000: Secretary of State Peter Mandelson tells the House of Commons that he will suspend the Northern Ireland Assembly if there is no IRA decommissioning.

The order is designed to stop the resignation of First Minister David Trimble, a move that would collapse the institutions.

5 February 2000: The IRA releases a statement insisting that it has entered into no agreements to decommission arms.

7 February 2000: The Continuity IRA, a splinter group, admits responsibility for a bomb attack at a hotel in County Fermanagh the previous day.

11 February: Despite furious last-minute negotiations, no deal is struck on decommissioning and Secretary of State Peter Mandelson signs the order to suspend the assembly just before 6pm.

15 February 2000: The IRA announces that it will no longer co-operate with the Independent Commission on Decommissioning because of the suspension of the assembly.

15 March 2000: Secretary of State Peter Mandelson tells MPs that weapons decommissioning is unlikely to have happened by the 22 May deadline set out in the Good Friday Agreement.

17 March 2000: David Trimble, attending St Patrick's Day celebrations in Washington, says that he is prepared to return to an assembly without prior decommissioning, providing the issue is dealt with.

23 March 2000: Reverend Martin Smyth challenges David Trimble for the UUP leadership. Two days later he is defeated 56.8% to 43.2%.

25 March 2000. Mr Smyth is defeated at the Ulster Unionist Council but the delegates link a return to devolved institutions with a pledge from the government that the name and symbols of the Royal Ulster Constabulary will be retained.

6 April 2000: Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness dismisses as "a pathetic fabrication" allegations in a secret document, publicised at the Bloody Sunday inquiry, that he fired a single shot that led to the shooting dead of 14 civilians by British soldiers in 1972.

12 April: The Queen awards the George Cross to the RUC at a ceremony at Hillsborough Castle. Troop levels reach their lowest in 30 years - 14,000.

27 April 2000: UUP MP for South Antrim Clifford Forsythe, dies aged 70.

2 May 2000: Seven hours of talks between party leaders and the two governments result in no new progress.

6 May 2000: The IRA releases a statement saying that it is ready to begin a process that would "completely and verifiably" put its arms beyond use.

The statement follows a proposal to restore the assembly, linked to a firm commitment to decommissioning. Details suggest that two international figures will inspect IRA arms dumps and confirm that the weapons are not being used.

7 May 2000: UUP leader David Trimble expresses cautious optimism about the statement.

8 May 2000: Secretary of State Peter Mandelson announces that he will bring forward an order to restore the Northern Ireland Assembly.

15 May 2000: The two independent weapons inspectors, former ANC official Cyril Ramaphosa and former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari hold meetings with Northern Ireland's political leaders.

16 May 2000: The Police (Northern Ireland) Bill to reform the RUC is published.

21 May 2000: Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams says that he cannot fully support the Police Bill, saying it waters down the Patten Commission's recommendations.

26 May 2000: Amid intense lobbying by both anti and pro-agreement unionists, the UUP's Jeffrey Donaldson MP publishes what he says is an alternative plan for devolution. He recommends that the party's ruling council supports his move to insist on a prior start to decommissioning.

If it does not take place, he argues that the assembly can operate in a shadow mode, advising and making recommendations to Northern Ireland Officer ministers.

Party leader David Trimble dismisses it as a "Unionist wishlist".

27 May 2000: David Trimble secures the backing of his party to re-enter the power-sharing assembly at Stormont despite no decommissioning of IRA arms.

29 May 2000: At midnight power is restored to the Stormont executive.

26 June 2000: A month after the Ulster Unionists agree to re-enter powersharing government with Sinn Fein, the two international arms inspectors, former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari and ex-ANC secretary-general Cyril Ramaphosa, report that they have been secretly taken to IRA arms dumps, inspected them and concluded that the arms cannot be used without their detection.

9 July 2000: The Orange march at Drumcree takes place, but was stopped by the Parades Commission from marching down the mainly nationalist Garvaghy Road.

19 July 2000: The police explode a bomb found on a railway line in west London. Dissident republican groups are believed to be responsible.

21 September 2000: The UUP loses its second safest Westminster seat to the DUP, as the Reverend William McCrea wins the South Antrim by-election forced by the death of UUP MP Clifford Forsythe.

On the same day, a rocket attack on MI6 headquarters in London is believed to be the work of dissident Irish republicans.

13 October 2000: The date of 28 October is set for a fresh meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council, where leader David Trimble will face pressure from his party to withdraw from the executive.

25 October 2000: The IRA releases a statement saying it will allow some of its arms dumps to be re-inspected.

26 October 2000: It is announced that the second inspection by international observers of some of the IRA's arms dumps has taken place. On the same day the General John de Chastelain of the Decommissioning Commission says no progress has been made on actual paramilitary disarmament.

28 October 2000: David Trimble wins the backing of the UUC, beating off a challenge from Jeffrey Donaldson by 445 votes to 374.

Mr Trimble's plans put before the council include seeking a more pro-active stance on disarmament from the decommissioning body and barring Sinn Fein from North-South ministerial meetings.

16 November 2000: Sinn Fein begin a legal challenge against First Minister David Trimble's ban on them taking part in North-South ministerial councils.

22 November 2000: Legislation to reform the Royal Ulster Constabulary passes into law at Westminster. But the crucial question of what the force will be called remains unanswered as Secretary of State Peter Mandelson retains the power to decide this at a later date.

5 December 2000: In an apparent response to the passing of the Police Bill, the IRA releases a statement reiterated the position it set out on 6 May 2000. It accuses the British government of failing to keep to its side of the bargain by implementing in full the Patten Report on policing reform. It stresses that it has not broken "contact" with the decommissioning body - but that decommissioning "cannot and will not happen on terms dictated by the British government or the unionists".

12 December 2000: In a farewell visit, outgoing US President Bill Clinton pays his third and final official visit to the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Speaking to a crowd of thousands in the border town of Dundalk in the republic, Mr Clinton appeals to people north and south "to protect this progress, to cherish it and build on it."

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