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A Chronology of the Conflict - 1996



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

A Chronology of the Conflict - 1968 to the Present 1968 1969
1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
2000 2001 2002 2003            

The following is a draft chronology of the conflict for the year 1996. For additional material on the peace process see the list of source documents.

1996 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sources Notes

1996

January 1996

Monday 1 January 1996
item mark Ian Lyons (31), was shot dead by the group Direct Action Against Drugs (DAAD) in Lurgan. DAAD was considered by many in Northern Ireland to be a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

Tuesday 9 January 1996
item mark A debate opened in the House of Commons, Westminster on the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Bill which was drafted to replace the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Emergency Provisions (Northern Ireland) Act. The Bill contained a proposal on the videotaping of Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) interviews.

Thursday 11 January 1996
item mark The three members of the International Body on Arms Decommissioning met John Major, then British Prime Minister, in London.

Friday 12 January 1996
item mark The three members of the International Body on Arms Decommissioning met the Irish Government, and representatives of Fianna Fáil (FF), Sinn Féin (SF), and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) in Dublin. The Irish Government and the three parties stated their opposition to the idea of an elected assembly to be based at Stormont that had been proposed by David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP).

Sunday 14 January 1996
item mark Sinn Féin (SF) again stated that it thought the idea of a new elected assembly at Stormont was a "non-runner".

Monday 15 January 1996
item mark The British and Irish Governments and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) held a first tripartite meeting. item mark The three members of the International Body on Arms Decommissioning met with Northern Ireland Office (NIO) ministers, and representatives of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and Sinn Féin (SF) in Belfast.

Wednesday 17 January 1996
item mark The British and Irish Governments met with Sinn Féin (SF) at Stormont. The meeting was for preparatory talks. Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and Dick Spring, then Tánaiste (deputy Irish Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs), again said that all-party talks would begin by the end of February 1996.

Wednesday 24 January 1996
Mitchell Report on Decommissioning
item mark The report of the International Body on arms decommissioning, the Mitchell Report, was published (the report is dated 22 January 1996) in Belfast. Included in the report were six principles (the 'Mitchell Principles') by which parties could enter into all-party talks and at the end of the report there were a number of confidence building measures. The main conclusion of the report was that decommissioning of paramilitary arms should take place during all-party talks rather than before or after as some parties wanted. The report was welcomed by the Irish Government and opposition parties, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI). Sinn Féin (SF), the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) and the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) accepted the report as a way forward. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) rejected the report and the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) expressed reservations. In a move which surprised many observers John Major, the British Prime Minister, ignored the main elements of the report and focused on the "elective process" mentioned as one of a series of confidence building measures. The UUP and the DUP welcomed the proposed elections while the SDLP initially rejected the proposal. The Irish Government accused the British of not consulting them on the announcement. [Relations between the two Governments were soured for some days afterwards.]

Sunday 28 January 1996
item mark The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) refused to meet with the Irish Government as part of the 'twin-track' negotiations.

Monday 29 January 1996
item mark The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) and the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), held their first meeting under the 'twin-track' negotiations.

Tuesday 30 January 1996
item mark Gino Gallagher (33), believed to be the Chief of Staff of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), was shot dead in a Social Security Office in the Falls Road, Belfast. [This killing was to mark the beginning of another feud within the INLA. This particular feud ended on 3 September 1996.]
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item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), held a meeting with Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, at Stormont. item mark John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), met with John Major, then British Prime Minister, in Downing Street, London.

February 1996

Thursday 1 February 1996
item mark A large number of bullets were fired into the home of a reserve member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). No group admitted responsibility.
item mark The Irish Times (a Dublin based newspaper) ran a report that Sinn Féin (SF) was unhappy with the final report from the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation, based in Dublin.

Sunday 4 February 1996
item mark The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) rejected calls from the Irish Government for a start to negotiations. George Mitchell, then chair of the International Body on Arms Decommissioning, said that there was a danger of an Irish Republican Army (IRA) split if there was no movement to all-party talks.

Wednesday 7 February 1996
item mark Dick Spring, then Tánaiste (deputy Irish Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs), and Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, held a meeting in Dublin. Dick Spring proposed the establishment of 'proximity' style talks similar to those adopted at the Dayton, Ohio Negotiations in the United States of America (USA) between warring groups from Bosnia. The idea was rejected by unionist politicians.

Thursday 8 February 1996
item mark Dick Spring, then Tánaiste (deputy Irish Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs), traveled to America for talks with Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America (USA).
item mark The European Court of Human Rights found that aspects of the British Government's emergency legislation in Northern Ireland infringed the European Convention on Human Rights.

Friday 9 February 1996
End of IRA Ceasefire
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a large bomb at South Quay in the Docklands area of London. The lorry bomb killed two people, injured many more, caused millions of pounds worth of damage, and marked the end of the IRA ceasefire after 17 months and 9 days. A statement had been issued by the IRA one hour before the explosion occurred at 7.01pm.
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Saturday 10 February 1996
item mark John Bruton, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), announced that the Irish Government was breaking off ministerial contact with Sinn Féin (SF) in the light of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) bombing in London on 9 February 1996.

Tuesday 13 February 1996
item mark John Major, then British Prime Minister, met Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), for talks at Downing Street, London.

Thursday 15 February 1996
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) left a five pound Semtex bomb in a telephone kiosk in the Charing Cross Road, London. Additional troops were flown into Northern Ireland to be deployed in the border areas.

Friday 16 February 1996
item mark There was a large peace rally at City Hall, Belfast, and a number of smaller rallies at venues across Northern Ireland.

Sunday 18 February 1996
item mark Edward O'Brien (21), later claimed as one of their members by the Irish Republican Army (IRA), was killed by the premature explosion of the bomb he was carrying. The bomb accidentally detonated in the bus he was traveling in as it passed along Aldwych, London. A number of passengers were injured in the explosion.
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item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), agreed to meet Dick Spring, then Tánaiste (deputy Irish Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs), for discussions based on a 'limited agenda'.
item mark Ronnie Flanagan was appointed as Deputy Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).

Tuesday 20 February 1996
item mark John Major, then British Prime Minister, held talks with David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), in Downing Street, London. Dick Spring, then Tánaiste (deputy Irish Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs), accepted the offer of talks (issued on 18 February 1996) with David Trimble.

Wednesday 21 February 1996
item mark An area of the centre of Belfast was evacuated because of a bomb scare. It is the first bomb scare in Northern Ireland since the Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire.
item mark John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), met with members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) Council to discuss the ending of the IRA ceasefire. item mark The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) published a document outlining proposals for a 90 member elected body to be based in Stormont, Belfast.

Sunday 25 February 1996
item mark Rallies in support of peace were held in a number of cities in Ireland and Britain.

Monday 26 February 1996
item mark In a crucial vote at Westminster on the Scott report (on shipments of arms to Iraq) the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and the United Kingdom Unionist (UKU) member voted against the Government. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) abstained. The Government won the debate by one vote.

Wednesday 28 February 1996
item mark John Major, then British Prime Minister, and John Bruton, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), held a summit meeting in London. In their Communique, the two Governments set a date (10 June 1996) for the start of all-party talks. It was announced that parties to the talks would have to agree to abide by the six 'Mitchell Principles' and there would be a period of 'proximity' talks to decide on an agenda and the administration of the process.

Thursday 29 February 1996
item mark 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.

March 1996

Saturday 2 March 1996
item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), said they would not attend the 'proximity' talks at Stormont.

Monday 4 March 1996
Proximity Talks
item mark Launch of a period of intensive consultations between the Northern Ireland political parties at Stormont. The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) refused to join these 'proximity' talks. Sinn Féin (SF) were refused entry to the talks. Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and Dick Spring, then Tánaiste (deputy Irish Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs), met a number of the other parties.

Friday 8 March 1996
item mark David Cook, then chairman of the Police Authority of Northern Ireland, and Chris Ryder, then a Police Authority member, were both dismissed from their positions on the Authority by Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. The two men had earlier lost a vote of confidence.

Saturday 9 March 1996
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) later admitted responsibility for a small 'improvised device' which exploded in Old Brompton Road, London. The explosion caused no injuries and only minor damage.

Monday 11 March 1996
item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), met with the leaders of the Irish Coalition Government in Dublin.

Wednesday 20 March 1996
item mark Dick Spring, then Tánaiste (deputy Irish Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs), had a briefing with Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, on plans for elections in Northern Ireland. Dick Spring refused to publicly support the plans.

Thursday 21 March 1996
item mark John Major, then British Prime Minister, announced details of elections to be held on 30 May 1996. The elections were designed to decide which parties would take part in all-party negotiations on 10 June 1996. The elections were also to elect delegates to the proposed Forum. The Forum was to be made up of 110 delegates, 90 elected directly and 20 'top-up' seats from the 10 parties polling the most votes. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and Sinn Féin (SF) both criticised the proposals.

Friday 22 March 1996
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) stated that there was little prospect for a renewed ceasefire.

Saturday 23 March 1996
item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) made a keynote speech at the Annual General Meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council. Sinn Féin (SF) Ard Fheis began in Ambassador Cinema in Dublin. A SF decision on taking part in the 30 May 1996 elections was left for the party's Ard Chomhairle to make.

Tuesday 26 March 1996
item mark The Police Authority published its Consultation Report. The parts of the report dealing with the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) recommended no change to the name, uniform, or oath of allegiance to the Crown. It was suggested that letterheads used by the RUC should include the adjunct, Northern Ireland's Police Service. David Cook, who had been sacked from the Police Authority on 8 March 1996, claimed that the report had been "watered down".

Friday 29 March 1996
item mark The Forum for Peace and Reconciliation in Dublin was suspended until a new Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire has been established.

Saturday 30 March 1996
item mark Jim McDonnell (36), then a prisoner at Maghaberry Prison, was found dead of a 'heart attack'. [It was later revealed that he had a series of injuries, including 11 broken ribs, which the Prison Service said was a result of a fall or the attempts at resuscitation.]

April 1996

Monday 1 April 1996
item mark A 'consultation paper' was issued by the British Government which listed 15 parties entitled to take part in the 30 May 1996 elections. [There was a series of concerns about a number of groups and individuals who were not included on the list. The list was increased to 30 on 16 April 1996.]

Tuesday 2 April 1996
item mark Michael Howard, then Home Secretary, introduced new emergency legislation to give the police the right to 'stop and search' suspected members of paramilitary groups.

Wednesday 3 April 1996
item mark Ron Brown, then United States of America Commerce Secretary was killed in a plane crash in Croatia. Ron Brown had been involved in measures to increase American investment in Northern Ireland.

Saturday 6 April 1996
item mark Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said that the Irish Republican Army was "out of a touch" with the wishes of Irish People. Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), celebrated his 70th birthday and stated his intention to continue as leader of the DUP and the Free Presbyterian Church.

Sunday 7 April 1996 (Easter Sunday)
item mark Republicans held a series of rallies to commemorate the Easter Rising of 1916. Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), addresses a rally in the Bogside, Derry. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued an Easter statement which did not mention a renewed ceasefire.

Monday 8 April 1996
item mark There was violence following an Apprentice Boys organisation protest at the banning of their march through the Lower Ormeau Road, Belfast.

Friday 12 April 1996
item mark The 26th annual conference of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) opened in Belfast.

Saturday 13 April 1996
item mark John Alderdice, the leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI), addressed his party conference in Belfast.

Tuesday 16 April 1996
item mark British government published draft legislation (in the form of a Command Paper, 'Ground Rules for Substantive All-Party Negotiations') 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 18 April 1996. The number of parties entitled to stand in the elections was increased from the original 15 to 30, however the list still excluded the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP).]

Wednesday 17 April 1996
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a bomb in The Boltons, Earls Court, London. The bomb went off in a vacant house and there were no injuries.

Thursday 18 April 1996
item mark Although the Unionist parties and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) opposed aspects of the legislation, the Northern Ireland (Entry to Negotiations) Act was passed at Westminster. The names of the 30 parties and individuals who will appear on the ballot paper for the Northern Ireland election were published in the Bill.

Saturday 20 April 1996
item mark It was believed that John Major, then British Prime Minister, and Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America (USA), discussed the 'Peace Process' at a summit in Moscow. A Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) report showed that poverty in Northern Ireland continued to be the highest in the United Kingdom (UK).

Sunday 21 April 1996
item mark Bertie Ahern, then leader of Fianna Fáil, criticised the Irish government's approach to Northern Ireland. He placed some of the blame for the ending of the Irish Republican Army's (IRA) ceasefire on John Bruton, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister). The criticism placed strain on the bipartisan approach to Northern Ireland in the Dáil.

Wednesday 24 April 1996
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) planted two bombs at Hammersmith Bridge, London. The bombs contained 30 pounds of Semtex and although the detonators went off the main charges failed to explode. There were no injuries and no damage was caused.
item mark There were claims, in a Channel 4 'Dispatches' programme, that the British Government had sanctioned secret talks with Sinn Féin (SF) which began in 1990. Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, denied the claims and stated that talks only began in 1993.

Friday 26 April 1996
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) accepted responsibility for the bomb at Hammersmith Bridge, London (Thursday 25 April 1996). Jim Nicholoson, then Chairman of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), stepped down as UUP Chairman. Dennis Rogan, then Vice-Chairman of the UUP, succeeded him.

Sunday 28 April 1996
item mark 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 could join all-party talks.
item mark The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) stopped a group of Orangemen from marching through the lower Ormeau Road in Belfast. This decision led to a two-hour stand-off.

Monday 29 April 1996
item mark Dick Spring, then Tánaiste (deputy Irish Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs), made a proposal that the issue of decommissioning should become a 'fourth strand' in the proposed all-party talks.

Tuesday 30 April 1996
item mark In response to Dick Spring's suggestion of 29 April 1996, unionist politicians accused the Irish Government of trying to "appease" the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

May 1996

Wednesday 1 May 1996
item mark A White Paper {external_link} was published on the future of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).

Thursday 2 May 1996
item mark Conor Cruise O'Brien, formally an Irish Labour Party Minister, announced that he would stand in the forth-coming Northern Ireland elections on behalf of the United Kingdom Unionists (UKU).

Sunday 5 May 1996
item mark A coded warning in the name of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) was issued stating that two bombs had been planted in Dublin. A suspect car at Dublin Airport was blown-up in the following security operation.

Thursday 9 May 1996
item mark Michael Howard, then Home Secretary, agreed to the transfer of Patrick Kelly, an Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoner, from Maghaberry Prison in Northern Ireland to Portlaoise Prison in the Republic of Ireland.

Friday 10 May 1996
item mark Following protests Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), was told that his name would be added to his party's name in the forth-coming elections.

Thursday 16 May 1996
item mark John Major, then British Prime Minister, was reported in an Irish Times (a Dublin based newspaper) article as having said that arms decommissioning would have to be addressed at the start of talks.

Sunday 19 May 1996
item mark Geoffrey Anderson, then a Royal Irish Regiment soldier, killed two people and injured a third before committing suicide.
item mark There was a confrontation between the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and nationalists in the village of Dunloy, County Antrim, during an Apprentice Boys of Derry march.

Monday 20 May 1996
item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), said that SF was prepared to accept the six 'Mitchell Principles' if the other parties agreed to them.

Tuesday 21 May 1996
item mark Hugh Annesley, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), announced that he would retire later in the year.

Saturday 25 May 1996
item mark Dessie McCleery, then a member of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) 'GHQ' faction, was shot dead in central Belfast. The killing was part of a continuing INLA feud.
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Tuesday 28 May 1996
item mark Dick Spring, then Tánaiste (deputy Irish Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs), met Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in Dublin after which they announced that George Mitchell, a former United States Senator, should play a key role in the proposed all-party talks.

Thursday 30 May 1996
Forum Elections
item mark Elections to the proposed Northern Ireland Forum and all-party negotiations were held across Northern Ireland. The most significant outcome was that Sinn Féin (SF) attracted a record vote of 15.5%. [RESULTS: Turnout - 64.7%, 754,296; Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) - 30 seats, 24.2%; Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) - 21 seats, 21.4%; Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) - 24 seats, 21.4%; Sinn Féin (SF) - 17 seats, 15.5%; Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) - 7 seats, 6.5%; United Kingdom Unionists (UKU) - 3 seats, 3.7%; Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) - 2 seats, 3.5%; Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) - 2 seats, 2.2%; Northern Ireland Women's Coalition (NIWC) - 2 seats, 1.0%; Labour - 2 seats, 0.8%.]

June 1996

Tuesday 4 June 1996
item mark The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) invited nine political parties to attend talks at Stormont. Sinn Féin (SF) were not invited to the talks. Mary Robinson, then President of the Republic of Ireland, began the first official state visit to Britain by an Irish Head of State.

Wednesday 5 June 1996
item mark Following three days of talks the British and Irish Governments agreed ground rules for all-party talks. The three members of the International Body on Arms Decommissioning, George Mitchell, John de Chastelain, and Harri Holkeri, were to chair various strands of the proposed talks. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a statement that a new ceasefire was "remote in the extreme".

Friday 7 June 1996
Garda Killed by IRA
item mark Jerry McCabe, then a Detective in Garda Síochána (the Irish police service), was shot dead during a post office robbery in Adare, County Limerick, Republic of Ireland. Suspicion for the killing fell on members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) who later admitted responsibility.
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Sunday 9 June 1996
item mark Fra Shannon, then a member of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) 'GHQ' faction, was shot dead in west Belfast in a continuing INLA feud.
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Monday 10 June 1996
Stormont Talks Began
item mark All-party negotiations (hereafter referred to as the 'Stormont talks') began in Stormont, Belfast. The talks began with opposition from the unionist parties to the extent of the role to be played by the chair George Mitchell. John Major, then British Prime Minister, and John Bruton, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), gave a joint press conference and indicated their support for George Mitchell. Sinn Féin (SF) were refused entry to the talks and the two governments issued a joint statement on the decision to exclude SF.

Tuesday 11 June 1996
item mark The second day of the Stormont talks were again spent in argument over the appointment of George Mitchell as chair and the extent of his "over-arching" role. The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) agreed to a compromise which reduced the role of George Mitchell but which let talks proceed.

Friday 14 June 1996
item mark The Northern Ireland Forum met for the first time in Belfast. Sinn Féin was excluded because of the absence of an Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire. There are objections by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the United Kingdom Unionists (UKU) to the appointment of John Gorman, a Catholic Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) delegate, to the chair of the Forum.

Saturday 15 June 1996
Manchester Bombing
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a bomb in Manchester, which destroyed a large part of the city centre and injured 200 people. The bomb was estimated to have contained one-and-a-half tonnes of home-made explosives. Although a warning of one hour and twenty minutes was received by a local television station injuries were still caused by the sheer scale of the explosion. In response to the Manchester bomb the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) announced that it was putting its members 'on alert'. Niall Donovan (28), a Catholic man, was stabbed to death near Dungannon, County Tyrone.

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

Wednesday 19 June 1996
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a statement in which it said: "We are still prepared to enhance the democratic peace process".

Thursday 20 June 1996
item mark An Irish Republican Army (IRA) 'bomb factory' was found by Gardí near Clonasee, County Laois, Republic of Ireland. In response the Irish Government ended all contacts with Sinn Féin (SF).

Friday 21 June 1996
item mark Hundreds of Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers escorted an Orange march through north Belfast. There were riots following the parade in Catholic areas of Belfast. Gareth Parker (23), a Catholic man, died following a beating he received near the Shaftesbury Inn in north Belfast.

Wednesday 26 June 1996
item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), admitted bringing pressure to bear on the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) over the events on the Garvaghy Road in 1995. Trimble had pressed for prosecutions against the leaders of the Garvaghy Road residents who had opposed the 1995 Drumcree Orange march. Prosecutions were dismissed. Veronica Guerin, an investigative journalist in Dublin, was shot dead near to Dublin.

Thursday 27 June 1996
item mark Gardí in the Republic of Ireland recovered 100 pounds of home-made explosives at Clones, County Monaghan.

Friday 28 June 1996
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) launched an attack at a British Army barracks in Osnabreuck, Germany. Three mortars were fired in the attack but there were no injuries. Several buildings were damaged.

Sunday 30 June 1996
item mark The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) rerouted a parade from passing through the lower Ormeau Road.

July 1996

Sunday 7 July 1996
Drumcree Parade - 'Drumcree II'
item mark The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) prevented a march by Portadown Orangemen from returning from Drumcree Church via the Garvaghy Road. The decision was taken by Sir Hugh Annesley, then Chief Constable of the RUC. The reason given for the decision was to prevent public disorder but the result was to mark the start of Northern Ireland wide protests. item mark Protests and roadblocks began to spread across Northern Ireland.
item mark Michael McGoldrick (31), a Catholic man, was shot dead outside Lurgan. The attack bore the hallmarks of a paramilitary killing but no group claimed responsibility. [Suspicion for the killing fell on a 'maverick group' from the mid-Ulster brigade of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). This group, believed to have been led by Billy Wright (then a leading Loyalist in Portadown), went on to form the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF).]
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Monday 8 July 1996
item mark Many aspects of life in Northern Ireland were disrupted as protests were mounted across the region in support of the Drumcree Orangemen. item mark The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) fired plastic bullets to control protesting crowds in Drumcree (Portadown), Sandy Row (Belfast) and Ballymena.
item mark At the multi-party talks in Stormont, Belfast, the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the United Kingdom Unionists (UKU) all pulled out of the talks in protest at the decision of the RUC to prevent the march at Drumcree.
item mark "Fire and brimstone" speeches by unionist politicians were claimed by the McGoldrick family to be partly to blame for their son's death on 7 July 1996.

Tuesday 9 July 1996
item mark The British government sent an extra 1,000 troops to Northern Ireland to support the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). The resources of the RUC were seriously stretched across Northern Ireland. Hundreds of roads, including motorways, were blocked by members of the Orange Order and loyalist supporters. Several Catholic families felt sufficiently intimidated to leave their homes in the Torrens area of Belfast. Gunshots were also reported in north Belfast. Leaders of the main Unionist parties meet with John Major, then British Prime Minister, in Downing Street, London.

Wednesday 10 July 1996
item mark Many towns and villages across Northern Ireland were blocked, either completely or for considerable periods during the day. item mark The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) reported that since Sunday (7 July 1996) there had been: 90 civilians and 50 RUC officers injured; 156 arrests; over 100 incidents of intimidation; 758 attacks on the RUC; and 662 plastic baton rounds fired by the RUC.

Thursday 11 July 1996
item mark Hugh Annesley, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), reversed his decision and ordered his officers to allow the Orange march to pass along the Garvaghy Road in Portadown. 1,200 Orangemen were allowed to proceed down the Garvaghy Road. Protesting residents were forced off the road. item mark Rioting broke out in the Catholic housing estate and was followed by serious rioting in other nationalist areas including Armagh, Belfast, Derry and Lurgan. item mark Three RUC officers were injured by gunfire in north Belfast. item mark There was widespread condemnation of the decision in nationalist circles with many political and community leaders claiming there had been a surrender to the threat of physical force.

Friday 12 July 1996
item mark Ballynafeigh Orangemen were allowed to march through the Catholic lower Ormeau Road area of Belfast. There was continuing rioting in nationalist areas.
item mark Dermot McShane (35), a Catholic man, was killed when he was run over by a British Army armoured car in Little James Street, Derry. It was estimated that 1,000 petrol bombs were thrown and 1,000 plastic bullets were fired in Derry.
item mark John Bruton, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), criticised the decision to allow the Orange march to proceed on the Garvaghy Road. He accused the British government of yielding to force and the threat of force.

Saturday 13 July 1996
CIRA Bombing
item mark A car bomb exploded outside the Kilyhelvin Hotel, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, causing substantial damage. The bomb was estimated to have contained 1,200 pounds of home-made explosive and the large blast injured 17 people as they were being evacuated from the hotel. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) denied responsibility for the bomb as did Republican Sinn Féin (RSF). Security sources placed the blame for the attack on the Irish Republican National Army (IRNA) considered to be the military wing of RSF. [A group calling itself the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) later claimed responsibility for the bomb.] item mark There were further riots in nationalist areas. The Social Democratic and Labour Party announced that it would withdraw from the Northern Ireland Forum.

Sunday 14 July 1996
item mark Nationalists held large rallies in Belfast, Derry and Lurgan.

Monday 15 July 1996
item mark In a series of raids the London Metropolitan Police found components for making bombs at a number of addresses in Tooting and Peckham, London. The police speculated that the equipment would have been used in bomb attacks on utility installations in London and the south-east of England. Seven men were arrested in the raids, and a man and a woman were later arrested in Birmingham.
item mark It was revealed in a television programme (BBC's Panorama) that David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), had held a meeting during the Drumcree stand-off with Billy Wright, then a leading Loyalist in Portadown. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) accused David Trimble of being in breach of the Mitchell principles.
item mark Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced the setting up of a committee to review parades in Northern Ireland (the Independent Review of Parades and Marches).

Wednesday 17 July 1996
item mark Richard Dallas, then the mayor of Derry, was stripped of the use of council facilities because of his part in an Orange roadblock on the Craigavon Bridge in the city.

Friday 19 July 1996
item mark Eight men were remanded in custody after appearing on charges of conspiring to cause explosions. The men were arrested on 15 July 1996.
item mark At a meeting between Hugh Annesley, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), and the Police Authority of Northern Ireland, a motion of no-confidence in Hugh Annesley was dropped.

Monday 22 July 1996
item mark Delegations from the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) and the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) met with John Major, then British Prime Minister, in Downing Street, London.

Monday 29 July 1996
item mark Agreement on procedures for talks was reached at the Stormont talks. There was no movement on the setting of the agenda for substantive talks.

Wednesday 31 July 1996
item mark Peter North, then a vice-chancellor at Oxford and a Queen's Council, was appointed to head the Independent Review of Parades and Marches. Later the Revs. John Dunlop and Oliver Crilly were also appointed to the body.

August 1996

Friday 2 August 1996
item mark In a statement the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) announced that the Portadown unit of the Mid-Ulster Brigade was to disband. The statement also said that activities of the Portadown unit would be investigated.
item mark Sinn Féin (SF) denied organising boycotts of Protestant businesses in rural areas of Northern Ireland. Since the stand-off at Drumcree some nationalists had been boycotting Protestant businesses in Armagh, Castlederg, Lisnaskea, Omagh and Pomery. Nationalists claimed that the business people had taken part in Orange roadblocks during the stand-off.

Monday 5 August 1996
item mark A meeting between the Apprentice Boys of Derry and the Bogside Residents Association ended without agreement about the march due to take place on 10 August 1996. A series of meetings between the two groups had been chaired by the local Member of Parliament John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP).

Wednesday 7 August 1996
item mark Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, ordered that the contentious part of the Derry walls, a section overlooking the Bogside area, be closed off for a month. This effectively banned the proposed march on 10 August 1996. Immediately after the decision the British Army moved to seal off the section of walls.
item mark Gardí in the Republic of Ireland discover a rocket launcher and ammunition in the Fane River near Dundalk, County Louth.

Saturday 10 August 1996
item mark In a decision taken during the morning the Apprentice Boys of Derry organisation decided not to try to walk along the section of closed-off Derry walls. The main parade through the centre of the city went ahead as planned. Contentious parades in Newtownbutler and Roslea, County Fermanagh went ahead after compromises were reached with local residents. There was trouble in Dunloy, County Derry, when a large group of Apprentice Boys tried to parade through the village.
item mark John Molloy (18), a Catholic man, was stabbed to death in Belfast.

Sunday 11 August 1996
item mark In Bellaghy, County Derry, residents blocked a parade by members of the Royal Black Institution. A compromise was eventually reached which ended a 20 hour stand-off.

Monday 12 August 1996
item mark Four Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers were suspended for taking part in Orange parades.

Thursday 15 August 1996
item mark The Police Authority of Northern Ireland estimated a cost of £10 million for police overtime during and after the Drumcree standoff.

Monday 19 August 1996
item mark Jimmy Smith, one of those who had escaped from the Maze prison in 1983, was extradited from the United States of America.

Tuesday 20 August 1996
item mark John Alderdice, then leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI), was awarded a life peerage to the House of Lords. His name had been sponsored by the British Liberal Democrats.

Wednesday 28 August 1996
item mark The Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC), an umbrella group for loyalist paramilitaries, issued a statement ordering Billy Wright and Alex Kerr (both leading Loyalists figures from Portadown, County Armagh) to leave Northern Ireland or face "summary justice". Mr Kerr was in custody when the threat was issued but Mr Wright said he would defy the order.

Friday 30 August 1996
item mark Following a series of interviews the Police Authority of Northern Ireland announced that Ronnie Flanagan was to be appointed as the new Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Chief Constable. Ronnie Flanagan took over from Hugh Annesley in November 1996.

September 1996

Sunday 1 September 1996
item mark Billy Wright, a leading Loyalist who had been ordered to leave Northern Ireland by the Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) on 28 August 1996, addressed a group of supporters at midnight; the time of the deadline set by the CLMC. A bomb was thrown through the window of the home of Alex Kerr's parents (Alex Kerr was also under threat from the CLMC but was in police custody at the time of the attack). There were no injuries as a result of the bombing.
item mark A series of Orange marches were rerouted in Dunloy, Newry, lower Ormeau Road, Pomeroy, and Strabane.

Monday 2 September 1996
item mark There were sectarian clashes between residents in the Mountcollyer Street and Duncairn Gardens areas of Belfast and British troops were deployed in support of the police.

Tuesday 3 September 1996
item mark Hugh Torney, believed to be the former Chief of Staff of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), was shot dead in Lurgan. This killing was part of feud that had begun on 30 January 1996 with the killing of Gino Gallagher. (Hugh Torney's faction later disbanded on 9 September 1996.)
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Wednesday 4 September 1996
item mark There was a rally in Portadown, County Armagh, in support of Billy Wright and Alex Kerr. The rally was addressed by William McCrea, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Member of Parliament.

Friday 6 September 1996
item mark The Forum met for business after a break for the summer. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and Sinn Féin (SF) did not attend.

Sunday 8 September 1996
item mark An Orange parade in Dunloy, County Antrim was rerouted by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). In protest at this decision the Orangemen held a short stand-off at a police line.

Monday 9 September 1996
item mark The 'General Head Quarters' (GHQ) faction of the Irish National Liberation Army announced that the group was disbanding. This decision followed the killing of Hugh Torney on 3 September 1996. This marked the ending of a feud within the INLA which started with the killing of Gino Gallagher on 30 January 1996. This latest feud had claimed six lives.
item mark The Stormont talks resumed after a break during the summer. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the United Kingdom Unionists brought a complaint against the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) and the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) for breach of the 'Mitchell Principles' because of their failure to condemn threats made against Billy Wright and Alex Kerr; both Loyalists from Portadown, County Armagh.
item mark The Irish Times (a Dublin based newspaper) published the details of a poll, one of the results of which showed that two-thirds of people in Northern Ireland thought the Stormont talks would fail.

Tuesday 10 September 1996
item mark The two governments, British and Irish, decided that the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) and the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) were not in breach of the 'Mitchell Principles' and therefore could remain in the talks at Stormont.

Wednesday 11 September 1996
item mark John Bruton, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), addressed a joint session of the United States Congress. His address was upbeat and optimistic about the prospects for progress in the all-party talks and also the possibility of a new Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire.

Thursday 12 September 1996
item mark Mary Robinson, then President of the Republic of Ireland, had a number of engagements in Belfast. There were protests at one of the venues, a women's centre on the Donegal Road, and the centre was later badly damaged in an arson attack.
item mark Michael Whelan (35), a Catholic man, was discovered beaten to death in the lower Ormeau area of Belfast. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) later said the motive for the killing was sectarian.

Friday 13 September 1996
item mark British Government Ministers were reportedly warned that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) were ready to launch a renewed bombing campaign in Britain.

Sunday 15 September 1996
item mark There was media speculation that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was about to call a permanent ceasefire, but this was rejected by republican representatives. item mark There were a series of pickets by loyalists outside Catholic chapels in Ballymena, Bushmills and Dervock, all in County Antrim. item mark A Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) councillor, David McAllister, said the pickets were a response to the rerouting of Orange parades and the boycott of Protestant businesses by Catholics. The protests were widely condemned. item mark The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) arrested three men in connection with the murder of Michael Whelan (35) on 12 September 1996.

Monday 16 September 1996
item mark Seán Devlin (30), a Catholic man, was shot dead in the Markets area of Belfast. Responsibility for the killing was later claimed by Direct Action Against Drugs (DAAD) which was believed by many people to be a cover name used by the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
item mark In the Stormont talks the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) brought a complaint against the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) stating that their actions during the 'Drumcree standoff' (7 July 1996 to 11 July 1996) were a breach of the 'Mitchell Principles'. item mark The Alliance Party also complained of the attendance of William McCrea (DUP Member of Parliament) at a rally in support of Billy Wright (a prominent Loyalist) in Portadown, County Armagh.

Monday 23 September 1996
item mark Diarmuid O'Neill (21) (later confirmed as a member of the Irish Republican Army; IRA) was shot dead in raids by security service personnel.
item mark In the security operation several people were arrested and bomb-making material recovered. Ten tonnes of home-made explosives, two pounds of Semtex, rifles and other bomb equipment were recovered. [Initial reports of the arrest operation suggested that there had been a 'shoot-out' but it was later revealed that Mr O'Neill was unarmed at the time of the shooting.]
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Sunday 29 September 1996
item mark A 250 pound car bomb made of home-made explosives was abandoned in Belfast. Security forces used a controlled explosion to make the bomb safe. The Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) later claimed responsibility for the bomb.

October 1996

Monday 7 October 1996
IRA Bombing of Army Headquarters
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded two bombs in the British Army Headquarters, Thiepval Barracks, Lisburn, County Antrim (responsibility for the bombs was claimed on 8 October 1996). 31 people were injured, four seriously, in the attack. (Warrant Officer James Bradwell (43) died four days later (11 October) of injuries received in the blasts). The bombs were each estimated to have contained 800 pounds of home-made explosive. The car bombs were smuggled into what is considered to be the top security base in Northern Ireland. The bombs were the first attack against the security forces in Northern Ireland by the IRA since their ceasefire on 31 August 1994. The bombing coincided with the start of the Conservative Party conference in Bournemouth, and a meeting between loyalist prisoners and representatives of the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) in the Maze Prison.

Tuesday 8 October 1996
item mark In a statement issued from Dublin the Irish Republican Army (IRA) admitted responsibility for the bombs in Lisburn, County Antrim, on 7 October 1996.

Wednesday 9 October 1996
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a statement stating that Diarmuid O'Neill (21), who was shot dead by British security personnel in London on 23 September 1996, was one of their volunteers.

Friday 11 October 1996
item mark Warrant Officer James Bradwell (43) died of injuries received during the Irish Republic Army (IRA) bombing of the British Army Barracks on Monday 7 October 1996.
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item mark There were reports in the Northern Ireland media that the Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) had met during the day to consider their response to the IRA bombing.
item mark At the Conservative Party conference in Bournemouth, John Major, then British Prime Minister, told delegates that the IRA would not bomb its way into the Stormont talks.
item mark About 1,000 people attended a peace rally organised by Women Together outside the City Hall in Belfast.

Saturday 12 October 1996
item mark The Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) held its annual conference. Leaders of the PUP appealed to the loyalist paramilitary groups to maintain their ceasefire.
item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), warned that Northern Ireland was on the edge of an abyss and called for talks that would include SF.

Monday 14 October 1996
item mark Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then the British Labour Party spokesperson on Northern Ireland, met with Loyalist prisoners in the Maze Prison in an effort to "keep the talks process alive". The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) agreed on a draft agenda for the Stormont talks.

Tuesday 15 October 1996
item mark Cecil Walker, then Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Member of Parliament (MP), announced in an interview that he would stand as an independent candidate in any forthcoming general election if he was deselected by his local constituency group. David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), denied that he was involved in any effort to have Walker deselected.

Thursday 17 October 1996
item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), met with John Major, then British Prime Minister, at Downing Street, London.

Friday 18 October 1996
item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), met with Loyalist prisoners in the Maze Prison.

Saturday 19 October 1996
item mark The march by the Apprentice Boys of Derry around the city's walls passed off without trouble.
item mark The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) held its annual conference. In his address to the conference, David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), blamed the Drumcree crisis on the Anglo-Irish Secretariat.

Tuesday 22 October 1996
item mark The Irish News (a Belfast based newspaper) published details of an opinion poll {external_link}. One result showed that 94 per cent of all respondents, and 70 per cent of Sinn Féin (SF) supporters, wanted an immediate Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire.

Wednesday 23 October 1996
item mark In the Queen's speech during the opening of a new session of the British parliament, the government announced that it would pass a bill on decommissioning. Later John Major, then British Prime Minister, stated that it would require more than a new ceasefire to allow Sinn Féin (SF) to enter the Stormont talks. James Molyneaux, the former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), announced that he would not be standing for re-election to the Lagan Valley constituency.

Friday 25 October 1996
item mark Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, stated that there would be no concessions for Loyalist prisoners as a "reward" for the continuing ceasefire.

Sunday 27 October 1996
item mark An article in The Observer (a London based newspaper) on the financing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), claimed that the IRA was obtaining funds by smuggling tobacco products and producing pirate versions of video tapes.

Monday 28 October 1996
item mark The Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) published a report, The Misrule of Law {external_link}, on the action of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) during the marching season. The report was critical of many aspects of the policing of the Drumcree standoff and its aftermath, particularly the use of plastic bullets.
item mark Patrick Mayhew, the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, met wit representatives of the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) and the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) to discuss the issue of prisoners.

Tuesday 29 October 1996
item mark Thomas Stewart (32), who had recently been a Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) commander, was shot dead in Ballysillan in north Belfast. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) stated that the killing was 'criminal' rather that 'political'.
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item mark The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) celebrated the 25th anniversary of its formation.

November 1996

Sunday 3 November 1996
item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), refused to comment on reports in the Sunday Tribune (a Dublin based newspaper) that the British government had reopened contacts with Sinn Féin (SF).
item mark Sean Brady succeeded Cathal Daly and was appointed as Archbishop of Armagh and head of the Catholic church in Ireland.

Tuesday 5 November 1996
item mark Bill Clinton won the American presidential election to secure a second term in office.

Wednesday 6 November
item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), was involved in a car accident near Dundalk in the Republic of Ireland, and received hospital treatment for minor injuries.
item mark Peter McMuller, a former member of the British Army's Parachute Regiment, was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment for his part in a bomb attack on British Army barracks in Yorkshire, England. He was released because of time already spent in jail.

Friday 8 November 1996
item mark The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) held its annual conference. There was some discussion of the effect the events surrounding Drumcree was having on the party's level of support.
item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), was refused a visa to visit Australia.
item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), called Dick Spring, then Tánaiste (deputy Irish Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs), "a cheerleader for a terrorist gang" because he was pressing for the entry of Sinn Féin (SF) into all-party talks.

Saturday 9 November 1996
item mark Loyalists, who were involved in a weekly picket of the Catholic church in Harryville in Ballymena, injured a six-year old Catholic boy when they threw stones at those leaving the service.

Sunday 10 November 1996
item mark The possibility of an election pact between Sinn Féin (SF) and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) was discussed at the SDLP annual conference. It was decided that arrangements could only be entered into after an Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire.

Monday 11 November 1996
item mark Proposals for the joint marketing of tourism by Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland were attacked by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

Tuesday 12 November 1996
item mark Lindsay Robb, formerly a Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) talks negotiator, failed in his appeal against a 10 year sentence for gun-running on behalf of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).

Wednesday 13 November 1996
item mark Three Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners who had been serving sentences in England were transferred to Portlaoise Prison in the Republic of Ireland.

Sunday 17 November 1996
item mark A report in the Sunday Tribune (a Dublin based newspaper) claimed that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) were effectively observing a ceasefire while they engaged in contacts with the British government.
item mark Unionist parties maintained their stated position that decommissioning of IRA weapons would have to take place before Sinn Féin (SF) could be involved in any talks.

Monday 18 November 1996
item mark The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) discovered an Irish Republican Army (IRA) mortar just outside Derry.

Wednesday 20 November 1996
item mark Leaders of the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) and the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) held a meeting with John Major, then British Prime Minister, at Downing Street, London. The leaders of the two Loyalist parties warned Major that the impasse over the issue of decommissioning arms in the Stormont talks could put the Loyalist ceasefire in "jeopardy".

Thursday 21 November 1996
item mark The Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) left a bomb, which failed to explode, in Derry.

Saturday 23 November 1996
item mark Sinn Féin (SF) held a special conference in Athboy, County Meath, Repubic of Ireland. The main topic of discussion was the peace process. The media were not allowed to cover the event.

Suday 24 November 1996
item mark A planned march by the Orange Order through the Catholic village of Dunloy was stopped by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). Following this RUC decision Loyalists resumed their weekly picket of the Catholic church in Harryville, Ballymena.

Monday 25 November 1996
item mark Roisin McAliskey, daughter of the former Member of Parliament (MP) Bernadette McAliskey, was detained in prison following a request by German police for her extradition. The charge related to an Irish Republican Army (IRA) mortar attach on the British Army Osnabruck barracks in Germany on 28 June 1996. Roisin was five months pregnant at the time of her arrest.

Tuesday 26 November 1996
item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), criticised Mary Robinson, then President of the Republic of Ireland, for not following "the proper protocol" when arranging visits to Northern Ireland.

Thursday 28 November 1996
item mark John Major, then British Prime Minister, replied in the House of Commons to proposals for a new Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire. The proposals were developed during meetings between John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF). Essentially the proposals called for the entry of SF into the Stormont talks immediately following an IRA ceasefire. Major rejected the central proposal stating that the British government would make its own assessment of the permanence of any new ceasefire. Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), warned against any changes to the Act of Succession which forbids any English monarch from marrying a Catholic.

Friday 29 November 1996
item mark Robert Carswell replaced Brian Hutton as the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland. Peter Robinson, then deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), alleged that members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) had been targeting him in London.

Saturday 30 November 1996
item mark There was serious violence during the loyalist picket of the Catholic church at Harryville, Ballymena. Approximately 500 loyalists attacked the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and those trying to attend mass. Petrol bombs were thrown, cars damaged, and two Catholic women needed hospital treatment. item mark The RUC found homemade explosives near Armagh.
item mark The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) held its annual conference. During the conference there were calls for the right of loyal order parades to proceed unhindered. item mark Republican Sinn Féin (RSF) held an Ard Fheis (party conference) in Dublin. The conference was critical of the peace process but supported the aims of the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA).

December 1996

Sunday 1 December 1996
item mark The Mail on Sunday (a London based newspaper) and the Sunday World (a Belfast based newspaper) both published a story which alleged an affair between Gerry Kelly, then a talks negotiator for Sinn Féin (SF), and Martha Pope, then an aide to George Mitchell, then the chair of the Stormont talks. [Both Kelly and Pope denied the allegation and an apology and a financial settlement were agreed within the week. Many commentators speculated as to the possible involvement of MI5 (British Intelligence) in concocting and spreading the story.]

Tuesday 3 December 1996
item mark An Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) delegation met Al Gore, Vice-President of the United States of America (USA), and a number of members of Congress, in Washington.

Wednesday 4 December 1996
item mark Two Catholic families were forced to leave their homes in the mainly Protestant Ballykeel Estate, Ballymena, after petrol bomb attacks on their houses.
item mark David Ervine, then leader of the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), said that he would support Catholics trying to get to mass at Harryville, Ballymena. [Ervine did not appear at Harryville but suggested that there should be dialogue instead of confrontation.]

Thursday 5 December 1996
item mark A Police Authority of Northern Ireland (PANI) report indicated that 80 per cent of Catholics, and 30 per cent of Protestants, want the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) to be reformed or replaced.

Friday 6 December 1996
item mark Another Catholic family was forced to leave the mainly Protestant Ballykeel Estate in Ballymena. This followed earlier expulsions on 4 December 1996.item mark Two Catholic schools were also damaged in sectarian attacks in north Antrim.
item mark Ken Maginness, Security Spokesman of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), claimed that the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) was responsible for the sectarian tensions in the Ballymena area.
item mark Martin Smyth announced that he was retiring as Grand Master of the Orange Order.

Tuesday 10 December 1996
item mark Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced that the extra security costs associated with the disturbances surrounding Drumcree and the ending of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire would have to be met from the existing budget. Hence there were to be cuts of £120 million from the provision for public services with training for the unemployed and housing facing the greatest cutbacks.

Wednesday 11 December 1996
item mark Robert Saulters was elected as Grand Master of the Orange Order following the resignation of Martin Smyth. He repeated earlier comments he had made about Tony Blair, then leader of the British Labour Party, being "disloyal" for marrying a "romanist" (Roman Catholic). Chuck Feeney, an Irish-American businessman, confirmed that he had donated $240,000 to the establishment of Sinn Féin's (SF) office in Washington.

Friday 13 December 1996
item mark Tony Blair, then leader of the British Labour Party, paid a visit to Northern Ireland where he met representatives of the main political parties, with the exception of Sinn Féin (SF).
item mark An application for bail on behalf of Róisin McAliskey, whose extradition was being sought by the German government, was rejected despite being pregnant and in poor health.
item mark A report on alleged boycotts of Protestant businesses in some rural parts of Northern Ireland was presented to the Forum. The report claimed that the boycotts were being organised by SF.

Tuesday 17 December 1996
item mark John Major, then British Prime Minister, began a two day visit to Northern Ireland. Michael Howard, then British Home Secretary, refused to allow the cases of 14 people convicted on Irish Republican Army (IRA) related offences to be reopened. This was despite indications that forensic evidence used against those convicted could have been contaminated.
item mark John Bruton, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), met with Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America (USA), in Washington. In a statement both men said that they were in favour of a swift entry to the Stormont talks for Sinn Féin (SF) if there was an IRA ceasefire.

Wednesday 18 December 1996
item mark John Major, then British Prime Minister, during his visit to Northern Ireland, admitted that the Stormont talks were "stuck" over the issue of decommissioning.

Thursday 19 December 1996
item mark John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), held a meeting in the Maze Prison with Loyalist prisoners.
item mark Joe Kennedy, then a United States Congressman, visited Belfast and held a series of meetings with political and community groups.

Friday 20 December 1996
item mark Two members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) shot and injured a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer who was protecting Nigel Dodds, then a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) councillor. The attack took place in the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children in Belfast.

Sunday 22 December 1996
item mark Eddie Copeland, a senior republican figure, was injured when a bomb exploded below his car in the Ardoyne area of Belfast. The Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) were thought to be responsible for the attack.

Wednesday 25 December 1996
item mark The graves of 18 Catholics were vandalised in a North Down graveyard.

Saturday 28 December 1996
item mark Liam Duffy, an political activist with Sinn Féin (SF), discovered a bomb under his car in the Waterside area of Derry.
item mark John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), called for an early general election stating his view that a strong government in Westminster would help the peace process.

Sunday 29 December 1996
item mark A report in the Sunday Times (a London based newspaper) claimed that Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), and Martin McGuinness, the Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), had both been appointed to the Irish Republican Army (IRA) Army Council. This allegation was denied by the men.

 


Sources
item mark This chronology has been compiled from a number of sources:
  • Bew, P. and Gillespie, G. (1999) Northern Ireland A chronology of the Troubles 1968-1999. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan Ltd.
  • Elliott, S. and Flackes, W.D. (1999) Northern Ireland A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: The Blackstaff Press.
  • Fortnight Magazine's monthly chronology of 'the Troubles'.
  • Sutton, M. (1994) An Index of Deaths from the Conflict in Ireland 1969-1993. Belfast: Beyond the Pale Publications. The Sutton Index of Deaths 1969-2001 - see in particular the list of deaths for 1996.
  • Various newspapers
  • For a full list of, and links to, on-line sources see the Guide to the Internet.

    Notes
    item mark Each entry contains information, where relevant, on the following topic areas:

  • Major security incidents
  • Political developments
  • Policy initiatives
  • Economic matters
  • Other relevant items
    Information contained within square brackets [   ] may contain commentary or information that only became publicly available at a later date. Any piece of information which is followed by a question mark in parenthesis (?) is a best estimate while awaiting an update.

    A Chronology of the Conflict - 1968 to the Present 1968 1969
    1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
    1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
    1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
    2000 2001 2002 2003            

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

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