CAIN Web Service

The Irish Peace Process
- Chronology of Key Events (April 1993 - April 1998)



[CAIN_Home]
[KEY_EVENTS] [Key_Issues] [Conflict_Background]
PEACE: [Menu] [Summary] [Reading] [Background] [Chronology_1] [Chronology_2] [Chronology_3] [Articles] [Agreement] [Sources]

Text and Research: Martin Melaugh
Material is added to this site on a regular basis - information on this page may change

This is a draft (v3) of the chronology of the key events in the Irish Peace Process from 1993 to 1998. This chronology has been compiled from a number of sources.

Chronology (1) of events leading up to the Peace Process (January 1988 - April 1993)
Chronology (2) of events during the Peace Process (April 1993 - April 1998)
Chronology (3) of events during the Peace Process (April 1998 - December 1999)
for more recent events see the draft chronologies for 2000 and 2001

1993

Saturday 10 April 1993
Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), was seen visiting the home of John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), in Derry. The two men met for discussions in their capacities as leaders of their respective parties.

Sunday 11 April 1993
The secret talks held between John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), became public knowledge when the Sunday Tribune newspaper ran a story. The talks were criticised by a number of parties and individuals.

23 April 1993
John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), held another meeting. Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, made a major speech on Northern Ireland to an audience in Liverpool.

24 April 1993
John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), issued a first joint statement.

4 September 1993 to 11 September 1993 ??
There was a suspension in IRA activities for one week. [Commentators believed this was done to coincide with a visit to Ireland by Bruce Morrison (former United States Democratic congressman).]

25 September 1993
John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), issued a second joint statement. The statement outlined the Hume/Adams Initiative which "aimed at the creation of a peace process". The Hume/Adams Initiative has never been published. The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) issued a statement.

27 September 1993
John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), suspended their talks while a report from them was being considered by the British and Irish Governments.

4 October 1993
Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a statement welcoming the Hume/Adams Initiative.

6 October 1993 ??
Speech by Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF).

7 October 1993
John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), met Albert Reynolds, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minster), and Dick Spring, then Tánaiste (deputy Irish Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs), and gave them a report on the current situation.

19 October 1993
James Molyneaux, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), told John Major, then British Prime Minister, of his party's opposition to the Hume/Adams initiative.

Saturday 23 October 1993
Ten people were killed when a bomb being planted by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded prematurely in a shop on the Shankill Road, Belfast. With the exception of one of the bombers who was also killed, the rest of those who died were Protestant civilians. The bombing represented the greatest loss of life in Northern Ireland in a single incident since the Enniskillen bombing on 8 November 1987. There was a wave of condemnations of the attack. Loyalist paramilitaries reacted immediately shooting two Catholic men one of whom died later from his wounds.

27 October 1993
Dick Spring, then Tánaiste (deputy Irish Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs), outlined proposals for Northern Ireland.

29 October 1993
John Major, then British Prime Minister, and Albert Reynolds, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), issued a joint statement from a meeting they held in Brussels.

30 October 1993
The Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) killed six Catholics and one Protestant in an attack on the 'Rising Sun' bar in Greysteel, County Derry. There was widespread condemnation of the attack.

14 November 1993
Sinn Féin (SF) held a convention in Belfast.

15 November 1993
John Major, then British Prime Minister, made a keynote speech on Northern Ireland to an audience in London.

16 November 1993
A story appeared in the media alleging that the British Government and Sinn Féin (SF) had been having a series of secret talks.

27-28 November 1993
The fact that there had been a series of secret talks between the British Government and Sinn Féin (SF) was confirmed.

Wednesday 15 December 1993
John Major, then British Prime Minister, and Albert Reynolds, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), issued a joint declaration from 10 Downing Street, London (the document became known as the Downing Street Declaration).

Thursday 16 December 1993
Tony Newton, then leader of the House of Commons, announced a decision to create a cross-party parliamentary committee at Westminster on Northern Ireland affairs.


1994

Wednesday 19 January 1994
The broadcasting ban under section 31 of the Broadcasting Act was lifted in the Republic of Ireland. This allowed Sinn Féin (SF) access to the Irish media.

Saturday 29 January 1994
Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America (USA), ordered that Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), should be given a visa to enter the USA to address a peace conference.

Wednesday 6 April 1994 - Friday 8 April 1994
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) called a three-day ceasefire.

Thursday 19 May 1994
The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) published a 21 page clarification of Sinn Féin (SF) questions that arose from the Downing Street Declaration.

Saturday 18 June 1994
The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) killed six Catholic men in a gun attack on a bar in Loughlinisland, County Down. The attack was widely condemned.

Sunday 24 July 1994
Sinn Féin (SF) held a special conference in Letterkenny, County Donegal to consider the Downing Street Declaration. SF were critical of the document and most observers took this to mean that the proposals had been rejected.

Tuesday 16 August 1994
Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and Michael Ancram, then Political Development Minister at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), held a secret meeting in Derry with Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), and Martin McGuinness, the Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF). [News of the meeting was not broken until 24 July 1995; see Irish Times.]

Wednesday 31 August 1994
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) announced a "complete cessation of military activities" in a statement to the media (IRA, 1994).

6 September 1994
Albert Reynolds, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), publicly shook hands following a meeting in Dublin. John Major, then British Prime Minister, cut short a meeting he was having with Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), at Downing Street following a disagreement.

16 September 1994
The broadcasting ban was lifted on prescribed organisations including Sinn Féin (SF). Albert Reynolds, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), pledged there would be a referenda north and south on any constitutional settlement. Ten border roads were reopened.

Thursday 13 October 1994
The Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC), speaking on behalf of all Loyalist paramilitary organisations, issued a statement which announced a ceasefire as from midnight (CLMC, 1994).

Friday 21 October 1994
John Major, then British Prime Minister, speaking in Belfast said that he was making a "working assumption" that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) intended its ceasefire to be permanent. He also announced that exclusion orders on Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF) and Martin McGuinness, the Vice-President of SF, would be lifted, all border roads would be reopened, and that exploratory talks between the British Government and SF would begin before Christmas.

Thursday 10 November 1994
Frank Kerr (54), a Post Office worker in a sorting office, was shot dead during a robbery. [The Irish Republican Army (IRA) later admitted that some of its members had been responsible though it claimed the killing had not been sanctioned by the Army Council of the IRA.]

Thursday 17 November 1994
Albert Reynolds, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), and his Fianna Fáil (FF) ministers were forced to resign ending the coalition Government of FF and the Labour Party (LP).

Friday 9 December 1994
A first meeting took place between a Sinn Féin (SF) delegation, led by Martin McGuinness, the Vice-President of SF, and Northern Ireland Office officials on behalf of the British Government.

Thursday 15 December 1994
A new coalition Government was formed in the Republic of Ireland. The coalition was formed from Fine Gael (FG), the Labour Party (LP), and Democratic Left (DL). John Bruton, leader of FG, was elected Taoiseach. A first meeting took place between delegations from the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) and Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), and Northern Ireland Office officials on behalf of the British Government.


1995

Wednesday 22 February 1995
John Major, then British Prime Minister, and John Bruton, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), held a press conference in Belfast to launch the Framework Documents.

7 March 1995
Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, during a visit to Washington said that Republicans could only enter into substantive negotiations when they showed a willingness to disarm by decommissioning some of their arm in advance of talks. The conditions laid down in what was said became known as the 'Washington 3' conditions. This statement signaled a period of deadlock over the issue of decommissioning of paramilitary weapons.

Wednesday 10 May 1995
Michael Ancram, the Political Development Minister at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), met with Martin McGuinness, the Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), for talks at Stormont. This was the first official meeting between SF and the British Government in 23 years.

Thursday 17 May 1995
Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, had an 'informal' private meeting with Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), at an investment conference in Washington, USA.

Monday 3 July 1995
Lee Clegg, a paratrooper with the British Army, was released from prison on the orders of Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Clegg had served four years for the killing of Karen Reilly in 1990. The decision sparked serious rioting in nationalist areas of Northern Ireland.

Sunday 9 July 1995
The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) blocked an Orange parade from returning from Drumcree Church to Portadown along the Garvaghy Road, a Catholic area. The decision sparked a stand-off between the RUC and the Orange Order. There were disturbances and blocked roads across Northern Ireland as protests were organised by loyalists in support of the Orange Order.

Tuesday 11 July 1995
A comprise was reached which allowed the Drumcree parade to proceed down the Garvaghy Road in Portadown. The stand-off had begun on 9 July 1995.

Thursday 27 July 1995
Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), met for their first official talks at Stormont.

Friday 8 September 1995
David Trimble was elected as leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP).

28 November 1995
The British and Irish Government issued a Joint Communiqué.

30 November 1995
Bill Clinton, the President of the United States of America (USA), visited Northern Ireland.


1996

Wednesday 17 January 1996
Sinn Féin (SF) met the British and Irish Governments at Stormont. The meeting was for preparatory talks.

Wednesday 24 January 1996
The report of the International Body on arms decommissioning, the Mitchell report, was published in Belfast.

Friday 9 February 1996
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a large bomb at South Quay in the Docklands area of London, England. The lorry bomb kills two people, injuries many more, causes millions of pounds worth of damage, and marks the end of the IRA ceasefire.

Wednesday 28 February 1996
John Major, then British Prime Minister, and John Bruton, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), announced a date (10 June 1996) for the start of all-party talks.

Thursday 29 February 1996
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a statement following talks between John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), and representatives of the IRA.

Monday 3 March 1996
Launch of intensive consultations between the Northern Ireland political parties.

24 March 1996
Sinn Féin (SF) Árd Fheis held in Ambassador Cinema in Dublin.

Tuesday 16 April 1996
The British Government published draft legislation (in the form of a 'Command Paper') for the proposed elections in Northern Ireland on 30 May 1996. The proposals lead to a period of debate before the legislation was rushed through parliament on xx April 1996.

Sunday 28 April 1996
Michael Ancram, then Political Development Minister at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), said that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) must restore its ceasefire and Sinn Féin (SF) must agree to be bound by the six 'Mitchell principles' before it can join all-party talks.

30 May 1996
Elections to the proposed Northern Ireland forum and all-party negotiations were held across Northern Ireland. The most significant outcome was that Sinn Féin attracted a record vote of 15.5 per cent.

Monday 10 June 1996
All-party negotiations began in Stormont, Belfast.

Friday 14 June 1996
The Northern Ireland Forum met for the first time in the Interpoint Centre in Belfast. Sinn Féin (SF) was excluded because of the absence of an Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire.

Saturday 15 June 1996
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a bomb in Manchester, England, which destroyed a large part of the city centre and injured 200 people. In response to the Manchester bomb the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) announced that it was putting its members 'on alert'.

Tuesday 18 June 1996
Parts of the centre of Dublin were evacuated in a bomb hoax which was thought to have been made by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF).

Sunday 7 July 1996
The Royal Ulster Constabularly (RUC) prevented a march by Portadown Orangemen from returning from Drumcree Church via the Garvaghy Road. Protests and roadblocks by Loyalists began to spread across Northern Ireland.

Saturday 13 July 1996
A car bomb exploded outside the Kilyhelvin Hotel, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, causing substantial damage. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) denied responsibility for the bomb as did Republican Sinn Féin (RSF). [The bomb was later believed to be the work of a new group called the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA).]

Friday 6 September 1996
The Northern Ireland Forum met for business after a break for the summer. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and Sinn Féin (SF) did not attend. Neither party was to return to the Forum.

Monday 7 October 1996
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded two bombs in the British Army Headquarters, Thiepval Barracks, Lisburn, County Antrim. The bombs were the first attack against the security forces in Northern Ireland by the IRA since their ceasefire on 31 August 1994.


1997

Monday 13 January 1997
The multi-party talks resumed at Stormont following the Christmas break.

Wednesday 12 February 1997
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) shot dead Stephen Restorick, then a British soldier, at an Army checkpoint in Bessbrook, County Armagh. [Lance Bombardier Stephen Restorick was, to date, the last soldier to be killed in the current Northern Ireland conflict.]

Wednesday 5 March 1997
The multi-party talks at Stormont were adjourned until 3 June 1997. This break was to allow the parties to contest the forth-coming general election.

Thursday 3 April 1997
There was widespread disruption on the motorways of England when the Irish Republican Army (IRA) warned of bombs on the M1, M5 and M6.

Saturday 5 April 1997
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a number of bomb threats which forced the postponement of the Grand National horse race at Aintree England.

Thursday 1 May 1997
The Labour Party were elected to power in British General Election. Tony Blair, then leader of the Labour Party became Prime Minister. Marjorie (Mo) Molam, was appointed as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in the new Labour government. Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), was elected for West Belfast and Martin McGuinness, the Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), was elected to Mid-Ulster.

Friday 16 May 1997
Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, paid a visit to Northern Ireland and gave the go ahead for exploratory contacts between government officials and Sinn Féin (SF).

Monday 16 June 1997
Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, baned further contact between senior civil servants and Sinn Féin (SF) following the shooting of two Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers in Lurgan, County Armagh, by the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

Wednesday 25 June 1997
The British and Irish governments issued proposals on decommissioning.

Sunday 6 July 1997
There was violence in Portadown, which later spread to other Nationalist areas, after the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) moved in the early hours to seal off the Garvaghy Road to allow the Orange march through the Catholic area.

Friday 18 July 1997
John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), issued a joint statement.

Sunday 20 July 1997
Following an approach from Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), and other SF members, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) declared a renewal of its ceasefire.

Tuesday 26 August 1997
An international body, the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD), was established to oversee the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons.

Friday 29 August 1997
Marjorie (Mo) Molam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire had been sufficiently well observed for Sinn Féin (SF) to enter the multi-party talks.

Tuesday 9 September 1997
Sinn Féin (SF) signed up to the Mitchell Principles and entered the multi-party-talks at Stromont.

Wednesday 17 September 1997
The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) joined the multi-party talks at Stromont. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) boycotted the talks because of the presence of SF, as did the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP).

Monday 13 October 1997
Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), and Martin McGuinness, then Vice-President of SF, met Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, for the first time.

Saturday 27 December 1997
Members of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) shot and killed Billy Wright (age), then leader of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), within the Maze Prison. Wright was sitting in a prison van waiting to be driven to the visiting block when three INLA inmates climbed across the roof of a 'H Block' and shot him several times. [This incident was followed by a series of killings of Catholics across Northern Ireland. A number of the incidents were subsequently blamed on the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) / Ulster Defence Association (UDA).]

1998

Saturday 3 January 1998
Loyalist prisoners voted to withdraw their support for the peace process. They expressed anger at the British government's handling of the process and insisted that concessions were being made to Republicans. The political leaders of the Loyalist paramilitary groups insisted that the 1994 ceasefire was still intact.

Wednesday 7 January 1998
Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced that she would go into the Maze Prison to meet Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) prisoners in an attempt to change their decision to end their support for the peace process. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) described the decision by Mowlam as "madness". The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) welcomed the decision.

Friday 9 February 1998
Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, went into the Maze Prison to meet Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) prisoners in an attempt to change their decision to end their support for the peace process. This strategy worked and the prisoners subsequently restated their support for the peace process.

Monday 12 January 1998
The multi-party talks resumed at Stormont following a break for the Christmas holidays. The British and Irish governments issued a document, the "Propositions of Heads of Agreement", in an attempt to add impetus to the multi-party Stormont talks. Most parties at the talks welcomed the document but Sinn Féin (SF) said it had reservations about the proposals.

Saturday 17 January 1998
Sinn Féin (SF) rejected the "Propositions of Heads of Agreement" as a basis for agreement.

Sunday 18 January 1998
Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), met with Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, at Downing Street in London.

Thursday 22 January 1998
Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), stated that the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) were involved in the recent killings of three Catholics. This despite the fact that the UFF was supposed to be on ceasefire. The UFF is believed to be a covername used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). David Adams, then a spokesman for the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), denied that the UFF were behind the recent killings.

Friday 23 January 1998
The Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a covername for the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), issued a statement saying that they were reinstating their ceasefire. [The statement was seen as an admission that they had been responsible for a number of recent deaths of Catholics.]

Monday 26 January 1998
The multi-party talks switched venue from Stormont in Belfast to Lancaster House in London in an attempt to inject impetus to the search for a political settlement. However, following the revelation that the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) had been involved in the killing of, at least, three Catholics, in the past couple of weeks, there were calls for the expulsion of the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) which is politically associated with the UFF. The British and Irish governments, at the insistence of some of the other political parties, took the final decision to expel the UDP. By this time the UDP had already left the talks venue. The two governments issued a document on UDP participation. This indicated that the UDP could re-enter the talks process if the UFF maintained its renewed ceasefire.

Tuesday 27 January 1998
Second day of multi-party talks at Lancaster House in London. The British and Irish governments introduced a new discussion document on the proposed nature of cross border bodies. While the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and Sinn Féin (SF) welcomed the document, the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) rejected the proposals as a move back to the Framework Documents. The two governments said that it was now up to the parties to hammer out an agreement on the basis of the papers before them. Following the main session of the day, Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, went to Lancaster House in the evening to meet with all the parties and to urge them to engage with each other and to reach a compromise.

Tuesday 17 February 1998
A number of security sources blamed the Irish Republican Army (IRA) for the killing of Kevin Conway.

Friday 20 February 1998
Sinn Féin (SF) was expelled from the multi-party talks because of the assessment by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) had been involved in the recent deaths of two men. SF was told that it could re-enter the talks in two week if there was no further breach of the IRA ceasefire.

Monday 23 February 1998
The Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) rejoined the multi-party talks following the party's suspension.

Thursday 12 March 1998
Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), had a meeting with Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister.

Monday 23 March 1998
Sinn Féin (SF) rejoined the multi-party talks following the party's suspension and the break over the Saint Patrick's Day holiday.

Thursday 26 March 1998
George Mitchell, then independent chairman of the multi-party talks, set a deadline of 9 April for the finding of an agreement between the parties.

6 April 1998
George Mitchell, then independent chairman of the multi-party talks, gave each of the parties his version of a possible draft agreement based on the talks to that date.

Thursday 9 April 1998
The deadline that was set for the completion of the multi-party talks at Stormont. Negotiations continued through the last day and into the night.

Friday 10 April 1998
'Good Friday'. All the parties talking place in the multi-party talks at Stormont sign an Agreement. The talks are brought to an end by George Mitchell, the independent chairman.


CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within the University of Ulster.


go to the top of this page go to the top of this page
Last modified :