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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 October, 2003, 16:07 GMT 17:07 UK
Northern Ireland: 1998 - 1999
The key events in Northern Ireland from the signing of the Good Friday Agreement to devolution. Click on the links for other years.



April 1998: The 65-page agreement is drawn up, proposing devolution of some central government power to a Northern Ireland assembly. It is welcomed by the Ulster Unionists, the SDLP and Sinn Fein. DUP leader Ian Paisley denounces it as "treacherous".

21 May 1998: The first all-Ireland poll since the general election of 1918 sees the agreement approved by 71.2% of voters in Northern Ireland and 95% of the Republic of Ireland electorate.

29 June 1998: David Trimble is elected First Minister designate of the assembly with the SDLP's Seamus Mallon Deputy First Minister.

15 August 1998: Dissident republicans using the name "Real IRA" detonate a 500lb bomb in the centre of Omagh on a busy Saturday afternoon. The bomb kills 28 people outright and injures 200 - the worst single atrocity of the Troubles. A 29th victim dies later.

September 1998: Assembly is elected, with Ulster Unionists winning the largest share of the vote and 28 seats. The SDLP takes 24, with Sinn Fein winning 18.

16 February 1999: The assembly votes to accept a report on the devolution of powers from Westminster and a deadline of 10 March is set to establish the executive. This is later postponed to 2 April - Good Friday.

1 April 1999: All-party talks at Hillsborough Castle end with call for establishment of an executive within three weeks. But Sinn Fein says it cannot deliver IRA decommissioning before the executive sits, as the UUP insists.

20 May 1999: UK Prime Minister Tony Blair sets an "absolute deadline" of 30 June for agreement on the formation of an executive, or the assembly will be suspended.

30 June 1999: The deadline passes without agreement. Tony Blair agrees to an extension.

15 July 1999: A meeting of the assembly to nominate ministers for the executive collapses as the UUP refuses to attend over Sinn Fein's stance on decommissioning. Seamus Mallon resigns as deputy first minister.

Talks at Stormont to resolve the dispute also fail.

17 July 1999:London and Dublin ask former US senator George Mitchell, who helped set up the original agreement, to re-enter the peace process.

6 September 1999: George Mitchell's review of the peace process begins.

23 October 1999: The expected cut-off point for Senator Mitchell's review is extended.

17 November 1999: The IRA releases a statement confirming that it will contact the decommissioning body as part of a comprehensive political deal.

18 November 1999: George Mitchell reveals details of the plan to rescue the peace process and allowing the setting up of a power-sharing government. It includes the IRA contacting the decommissioning body as soon as the executive is set up.

27 November 1999: The Ulster Unionist Council backs the Mitchell deal by 480 votes to 349 - paving the way for devolution within days.

29 November 1999: The Northern Assembly meets and Seamus Mallon is reinstated as deputy first minister. D'Hondt mechanism is triggered and 10 ministers are nominated to the Northern Ireland Executive.

30 November 1999: The laws to enable devolution to take place are rushed through both houses of parliament.

1 December 1999: Power is passed from Westminster to Belfast at midnight.

2 December 1999: The Irish government removes its territorial claim to Northern Ireland from its constitution and the Anglo-Irish agreement is revoked. The new Northern Ireland Executive meets for the first time.

The IRA announces that it has appointed a representative to the international body on decommissioning.







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