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A Chronology of the Conflict - 1997



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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 1997. For additional material on the peace process see the list of source documents.

1997 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sources Notes

1997

January 1997

Wednesday 1 January 1997
item mark Two bombs, estimated at 500 lbs of explosive, were left in the grounds of Belfast Castle. The bombs were safely defused. [No group claimed responsibility but it was believed to be the work of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) (?).]

Thursday 2 January 1997
item mark It was reported in the Irish Times newspaper that representatives of Sinn Féin (SF) had approached the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) about the possibility of an electoral pact during the forthcoming general election. [This approach was rejected by the SDLP on 5 January 1997.]
item mark Andrew Hunter, then Chairman of the Conservative Party's backbench committee on Northern Ireland, predicted that the "present peace process will fade away into nothing in a relatively short period of time".

Friday 3 January 1997
item mark There was a report in the Irish Times which indicated that the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) were considering ending their ceasefire officially if the Irish Republican Army (IRA) continued to carry out attacks. [The Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) denied that there was any truth in the report.]

Sunday 5 January 1997
item mark A bomb, estimated at 250 lbs, was left near Cullyhanna, County Armagh. The device was defused by the British Army. [It was believed to have been planted by the IRA.] item mark 'Punishment' beatings were carried out on two men in north Belfast, and there were three 'punishment' shootings in Portadown.
item mark John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), wrote an article in the Sunday Independent newspaper which responded to approaches from Sinn Féin (SF) for an electoral pact. Hume stated that the SDLP would only enter such a pact if there was an Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire and if SF dropped its policy of abstention from the Westminster parliament. [These conditions were rejected by SF.]

Monday 6 January 1997
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a 'rocket' attack at the Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast injuring a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer in the leg. item mark A man was shot in the leg in a 'punishment' attack in West Belfast. [It was claimed by some people that this shooting was carried out by the Official IRA.]

Tuesday 7 January 1997
item mark Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers travelling in two Landrovers in the Shantallow area of Derry escaped injury when a bomb was thrown at their vehicles. item mark There was disruption in Belfast caused by three bomb alerts.

Friday 10 January 1997
item mark There was a series of 20 bomb alerts throughout Belfast leading to major disruption.
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a statement in the Andersonstown News warning informers that "action" would be taken against them.
item mark Ken Maginnis, then Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Security Spokesperson, called on the Department of the Environment to remove an IRA memorial to Sean South and Feargal O'Hanlon who had been killed by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in 1957.

Saturday 11 January 1997
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a mortar-bomb attack on an unmanned Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) station in Fermanagh.
item mark Robert Salters, then Grand Master of the Orange Order, and nine other senior Orangemen went to Harryville, Ballymena to lend support to Catholics whose Chapel was being picketed by Loyalists.
item mark Martin McGartland, who had been an IRA informer, criticised the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) for rejecting his claim for compensation for injuries he sustained as he escaped an IRA execution squad in 1992.

Monday 13 January 1997
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a 'rocket' attack on a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Landrover patrol in Kennedy Way, west Belfast. There were no injuries in the attack.
item mark Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, paid a visit to Derry and stated that he considered the Loyalist ceasefire to be still intact.
item mark The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP) called for the expulsion of the smaller Loyalist parties, the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) and the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), from the Stormont talks.
item mark Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America, called for a renewed IRA ceasefire.

Tuesday 14 January 1997
item mark The Lord Chancellor's office was criticised for refusing to answer a parliamentary question about whether or not Lord Carswell, then Northern Ireland Chief Justice, was a member of the Orange Order or the Free Masons.
item mark Nora Owen, then Justice Minister in the Republic of Ireland, ordered that James Corry should be released from custody. [Corry had been arrested following an extradition request by a court in Germany on matters related to the bombing at the British Army barracks in Osnabreuck, Germany, on 28 June 1996.]

Wednesday 15 January 1997
item mark The trial of Billy Wright, then a leading Loyalist figure from Portadown, began at Belfast High Court. Wright was charged with threatening a witness. [Wright was believed at this time to be the leader of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF). The LVF was considered to be composed mainly of former members of the mid-Ulster Brigade of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). Wright was killed in the Maze Prison on 27 December 1997.]

Thursday 16 January 1997
item mark The case of Lee Clegg was referred to the Court of Appeal by Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. [Clegg had been released from prison in 1995 having served two years of a life sentence for the murder of Karen Reilly (16) on 30 September 1990.]
item mark The trial of six men who had escaped from Whitmoor Prison collapsed due to "prejudicial publicity" from the London Evening Standard. The trial was being heard in the High Court in London.

Friday 17 January 1997
item mark A British television news programme, Channel 4 News, carried a report which presented evidence that soldiers, other than those of the Parachute Regiment, had opened fire on those taking part in the civil rights march on 'Bloody Sunday' in Derry on 30 January 1972. It was suggested that members of the Royal Anglian Regiment could have been responsible for the deaths of three of the 14 victims. Relatives of the victims renewed their call for a fresh inquiry into the events of 'Bloody Sunday'.

Saturday 18 January 1997
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) fired two 'horizontal type mortars' at a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Landrover patrol in Downpatrick, County Down. There were no injuries. An attempted mortar attack in Derry was foiled by the security forces in Derry.
item mark John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), confirmed that he would be the SDLP candidate for Foyle (in Derry) at the next general election. [There had been suggestions that he might stand aside in favour of one of his colleagues. Hume at this time was both a Member of Parliament (MP) and a Member of the European Parliament (MEP).]

Monday 20 January 1997
item mark A Catholic family escaped injury when a bomb exploded under their van in Larne. [No group claimed responsibility but the incident was believed to be the work of the Loyalist Volunteer Force; LVF (?).] item mark There was an attack on the Mountpottinger Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) station in Short Strand, Belfast. Two 'coffee jar bombs' were thrown at the station but there were no injuries. [The attack was believed to have been carried out by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) (?).]

Saturday 25 January 1997
item mark A bomb exploded under a car at Ballynahinch, County Down. The car belonged to three off-duty British soldiers who were visiting a disco in the town. None of the soldiers were seriously injured in the incident.
item mark Sinn Féin (SF) announced its list of candidates for the general election, with Martin McGuinness, then Vice-President of SF, to stand in Mid-Ulster and Gerry Adams, then President of SF, to stand in West Belfast.

Monday 27 January 1997
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a 'rocket' attack on a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Landrover patrol in Toomebridge, County Antrim. There were no injuries. [Date ?]
item mark Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said that representatives of the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) and Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) could remain at the Stormont talks. Mayhew also warned the IRA that "we will pursue you with every means open to us under the law".
item mark It was reported on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) programme Newsnight that the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) had commissioned a television advertisement which compared the situation in Northern Ireland to that in Nazi Germany. [Following complaints that the comparison was misleading the advertisement was dropped.]
item mark Three Irish Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) paid a visit to Roisín McAliskey in Holloway prison, England. McAliskey, who at that time was six months pregnant and was being held prior to a decision about her possible extradition to Germany.

Tuesday 28 January 1997
item mark A Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Landrover patrol was attacked on the Springfield Road, Belfast. Two 'rockets' were fired at the patrol but there were no injuries. [It was believed that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was responsible for the attack (?).]
item mark Michael Mansfield, then a Queen's Council, claimed that the escape by IRA prisoners from Whitemoor Prison in England on (day?) March 1995 was assisted by British Intelligence involvement in an attempt to "scupper" the then IRA ceasefire.

Thursday 30 January 1997
North Report
item mark Peter North, then Chairman of the Independent Review of Parades and Marches, launched his report (The North Report) in Belfast and recommended the setting up of an independent commission to review contentious parades. Most Nationalists welcomed the Review but Unionists were against the main recommendations. Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced that "further consultation" would have to be carried out by the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) before any decisions could be taken. Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Labour Party Spokesperson on Northern Ireland, approved of the report.

February 1997

Sunday 2 February 1997
item mark A march was held in Derry to commemorate the 25th anniversary of 'Bloody Sunday'. The march attracted an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 people.
item mark Sean O'Callaghan, an Irish Republican Army (IRA) informer, claimed in Fortnight magazine that Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), had in the past suggested killing John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). [The claims were widely reported in national and international media. SF said the claims were "rubbish".]

Monday 3 February 1997
item mark It was reported in the Irish Times that Members of Parliament (MP) from the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) had met representatives of the British Foreign Office to complain about the frequency of visits by Mary Robinson, then President of the Republic of Ireland, to Northern Ireland. They also expressed concerns about breaches of protocol and distinctions between 'official' and 'private' visits.

Tuesday 4 February 1997
item mark Ken Maginnis, then Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Member of Parliament (MP), called on the British government to apologise for 'Bloody Sunday'.

Wednesday 5 February 1997
item mark Billy McCaughey, an ex-officer of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) who had served 16 years for a sectarian murder, denied that he was organising the pickets each Saturday night outside the Catholic chapel at Harryville, Ballymena.

Saturday 8 February 1997
item mark The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) delayed a planned Loyalist band parade outside the Catholic chapel at Harryville, Ballymena, until after the mass was finished. About 20 Orange bands paraded past the chapel in the continuing Loyalist picket at Harryville.

Monday 10 February 1997
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) left a large bomb on the outskirts of Strabane, County Tyrone. The bomb was defused by the British Army. Ed Turner, then Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) mayor of Strabane, said that in light of the attempted bombing he would not be recommending anyone to invest in the town. His statement drew criticism from Nationalists.
item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), sent a fax to John Major, then British Prime Minister, requesting talks between SF and the British government.

Tuesday 11 February 1997
item mark Kevin McNamara, a former Labour Party Northern Ireland spokesperson, and Seamus Mallon, then deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), called for a new appeal for Danny McNamee who received a 25 year sentence in 1987 for Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb making offences.
item mark An International Urgent Alert was issued by Amnesty International on the case of Roisín McAliskey who was six months pregnant and was imprisoned pending a decision about extradition to Germany.

Wednesday 12 February 1997
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) shot dead Stephen Restorick, then a British soldier, at an Army checkpoint in Bessbrook, County Armagh. [This killing was often refered to as the last British soldier killed in Northern Ireland, until 7 March 2009 when two soldiers were killed by the Real IRA in County Antrim.]
death button

Friday 14 February 1997
item mark Relatives of those killed on 'Bloody Sunday' met with Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, to put the case for a fresh inquiry in the events of 30 January 1972.

Saturday 15 February 1997
item mark Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said that there would be no official apology or no new inquiry into the killings on 'Bloody Sunday'. The relatives of those killed on 30 January 1972 expressed outrage and disappointment.

Monday 17 February 1997
item mark The Garda Síochána (the Irish police) arrested five people following the discovery of detonators near Portlaw, County Waterford.
item mark Accusations of a secret deal were made when the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) abstained in a vote of censure on a Conservative government minister.

Tuesday 18 February 1997
item mark John Hermon, the former Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), launched his autobiography Holding the Line. At the launch Hermon denied that there had every been a 'shoot-to-kill' policy by the security forces during the 1980s. Hermon also criticised the Anglo-Irish Agreement and the Downing Street Declaration.
item mark The State Department in the United States of America (USA) confirmed that it had issued a visitors visa to Sean O'Callaghan, who was a former Irish Republican Army (IRA) informer.

Thursday 20 February 1997
item mark There was a report in the Irish News that a Catholic woman who worked at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) had received damages for sectarian harassment by an aide of Baroness Denton. It was revealed that the Catholic woman had been moved from her post while the aide responsible for the harassment had been allowed to remain in her post as Denton's Private Secretary. This was in clear breach of Fair Employment guidelines on such circumstances.
item mark In an article in the Irish News John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), said that if the Irish Republican Army (IRA) were not prepared to call a new ceasefire then he would "look elsewhere" for political progress.
item mark The parades committee of the Northern Ireland Forum turned down a request by the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition to make a submission on the issue of parades and marches in its area. The reason given was that the deadline for submissions had passed.
item mark The 'Bloody Sunday' Justice Campaign met with the leaders of the Republic of Ireland government as well the leader of Fianna Fáil (FF).
item mark Edward Heath, former British Prime Minister, was criticised by Nationalists for comments he made about the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and his part in the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. Speaking on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) programme Newsnight Heath said that "we can criticise it [the massacre] in exactly the same way as people criticise 'Bloody Sunday' in Northern Ireland, but that isn't, by any means, the whole story."

Saturday 22 February 1997
item mark An Irish Republican Army (IRA) mortar was found by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) near Caledon, County Armagh, following a car chase during which the driver escaped.
item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), stated in an article in the Irish Times that any new ceasefire by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) would be "genuinely unequivocal".
item mark The Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) held its first annual conference during which Gary McMichael, then leader of the UDP, called for a security crackdown on the IRA. Statements read at the conference on behalf of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) and the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) prisoners were critical of the politics of the main Unionist parties.
item mark Republican Sinn Féin (RSF) held a conference in Derry. RSF were critical of Sinn Féin's (SF) desire to enter the Stormont talks and of SF's tactics during the Drumcree crisis in July 1996.

Monday 24 February 1997
item mark The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) announced its list of candidates for the forthcoming general election. item mark Bertie Ahern, then leader of Fianna Fáil (FF) address a public meeting in south Belfast and told the audience that any new Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire could not be "conditional or tactical".

Wednesday 26 February 1997
item mark Two members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a 'punishment' style attack on a 16 year old girl, Judith Boylan, in Armagh.
item mark A survey in the Irish News reported that 62 (?) per cent of respondents favoured compromise on the issue of contentious parades.

March 1997

Sunday 2 March 1997
item mark An Irish Republican Army (IRA) mortar was discovered close to Warrenpoint, County Down.

Monday 3 March 1997
item mark A bomb was found outside the office of Sinn Féin (SF) in Monaghan, Republic of Ireland. The bomb, which contained two and a half kilos of Powergel (a commercial explosive), was defused by members of the Irish Army. [There was no claim of responsibility, but the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) was believed to be behind the attack. The UVF have used Powergel on a number of occasions. Representatives of the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) insisted that the Loyalist ceasefire was intact. Later it was believed that this was one of a series of 'no claim, no blame' incidents, whereby paramilitary groups which were officially on ceasefire could carry out attacks without their political representatives being removed from the Stormont talks.]
item mark There was a meeting of the British-Irish Parliamentary body held in Dublin. At the meeting Kevin McNamara, a former Labour Party spokesperson on Northern Ireland, said that Roisín McAliskey, then being held in prison awaiting a decision about extradition, had been strip-searched 75 times between 20 November 1996 and 16 February 1997, despite being pregnant. McNamara called for her release on bail.

Tuesday 4 March 1997
item mark The Radio Telefis Éireann (RTE) programme Prime Time claimed that Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), had indicated that SF was "behind" some of the residents groups that were opposing Orange Order parades. [Adams was alleged to have made the comments at a Republican conference in Athboy, County Meath on 23 November 1996. SF denied the claims.]

Wednesday 5 March 1997
Stormont Talks Adjourned
item mark The Stormont multi-party talks were adjourned until 3 June 1997. This break was to allow the parties to contest the forthcoming general election.

Friday 7 March 1997
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) left a bomb near Dungannon, County Tyrone. The bomb was defused by the British Army.
item mark Billy Wright, then a leading Loyalist figure from Portadown, was sentenced to seven years for threatening a witness. At the same trial Dale Weathered and Trevor Buchanan were sentenced to seven and eight years respectively for their part in a paramilitary 'punishment' attack.
item mark The security status of Roisín McAliskey, then being held in prison awaiting a decision about extradition, was reduced from High Risk Category A to Standard Risk Category A. This had the affect of ending regular strip searches of McAliskey who was then seven months pregnant.

Saturday 8 March 1997 or Sunday 9 March 1997 (?)
item mark The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) planted firebombs in the offices of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) in Banbridge and Newcastle, which caused serious damage. [The attacks were believed to be a response to the marketing of the whole of Ireland as a tourist destination by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board in conjunction with Bord Fáilte (the tourist board in the Republic of Ireland). Many Loyalists are opposed to cross-border co-operation of any kind.]
item mark There were demonstrations in support of Roisín McAliskey, then being held in prison awaiting a decision about extradition, in Dublin, London, New York, Washington, and a number of other cities.

Monday 10 March 1997
item mark Maurice Hayes, the former Northern Ireland Ombudsman, was appointed by the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) to investigate the claim that a Catholic woman, who was the victim of sectarian harassment, was moved from her job in the office of Baroness Denton. Michael Ancram, then Political Development Minister, condemned the picketing by Loyalists of the Catholic chapel at Harryville, Ballymena. Ancram made the comments when on a visit to Catholic schools in Ballymena which had been damaged in arson attacks.
item mark The parents of Stephen Restorick, a British soldier who had been shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) on 12 February 1997, received a letter of condolence from Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF).

Wednesday 12 March 1997
item mark The Irish News carried a report which claimed that the group 'Loyalist Solidarity on the Right to March' was planning to hold a series of rallies in areas where Orange Order parades were being contested.
item mark There was a meeting in Dublin of the Anglo-Irish Conference attended by Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and Dick Spring, then Tánaiste (deputy Irish Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs). In their joint communiqué there was a call for compromise over the issue of contentious parades.
item mark Mary Robinson, then President of the Republic of Ireland, announced that she would not be seeking a second term of office.

Thursday 13 March 1997
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a bomb attack in the Short Strand area of east Belfast and injured a British soldier and a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer.
item mark Twenty Republicans were warned by the RUC that their names were on a list found in the possession of a man suspected of being a member of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). The man was arrested during an attempted post office robbery in the Village area of Belfast.
item mark The British Home Office announced that Roisín McAliskey, then being held in prison awaiting a decision about extradition, would be allowed to keep her baby in the mother and baby unit of Holloway Prison.

Friday 14 March 1997
item mark John Slane (44), a Catholic man, was shot dead in his home in west Belfast. [It was believed that a Loyalist paramilitary group was responsible although none of the various groups claimed responsibility.] Sloan left a wife and nine children.
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item mark A number of shots were fired by a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) patrol outside the Derryhirk Bar in Aghagallon, County Antrim. An investigation into the incident was announced by the Independent Commission for Police Complaints.
item mark The Court of Appeal cleared Damien Sullivan of the murder in May 1994 of Nigel Smyth who was a security guard at the time. Thomas Fox, a co-accused, had his appeal rejected.
David McClean, then a junior minister in the Home Office, wrote a letter in the Guardian (a British newspaper) in which he compared Roisín McAliskey, then being held in prison awaiting a decision about extradition, to "IRA scum" and to Myra Hindley (a notorious child killer).
item mark George Mitchell, then Chairman of the multi-party talks at Stormont, spoke at the American Ireland Fund dinner in Washington and condemned the "twin demons of Northern Ireland, violence and intransigence" which were feeding off each other "in a deadly ritual in which most of the victims were innocent". [Many people took the reference to "intransigence" to have been particularly directed at certain Unionist politicians, especially Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). The DUP subsequently issued a statement which called for Mitchell's resignation as Chairman of the talks.]
item mark Edward Kennedy, then an American Senator, called for an "immediate and unconditional" ceasefire by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Kennedy also called on John Major, then British Prime Minister, to state that Sinn Féin (SF) would be allowed to enter the Stormont talks when they resumed on 3 June 1997.

Sunday 16 March 1997
item mark There were reports that a compromise had been reached over the disputed 12 July Orange Order parade in Dromore, County Tyrone. The Orange Order denied that a compromise had been achieved.
item mark An article in the Sunday Post carried claims by a former member of the Parachute Regiment of the British Army that on 'Bloody Sunday' (30 January 1972) some of his fellow soldiers had deliberately killed unarmed civilians. John Bruton, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), called on the British government to investigate this new evidence.

Monday 17 March 1997
item mark Billy Hutchinson, then a spokesperson for the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), received a warning from the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) that the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) was planning to assassinate him.
item mark John Kinsella, who had been sentenced in 1994 for 20 years for possession of explosives, had his case referred to the Court of Appeal in London.
item mark John Major, then British Prime Minister, announced the date of the general election as 1 May 1997.

Tuesday 18 March 1997
item mark Derrylin, County Fermanagh, was sealed off for a time following an Irish Republican Army (IRA) warning that a bomb had been left in the village.
item mark Robert Salters, then Grand Master of the Orange Order, said that he supported the "Dromore initiative" which sought to find a compromise between local residents of the village and Orangemen. Joel Patton, then spokesperson for the Spirit of Drumcree (SOD), was critical of the compromise.
item mark An amateur drama group based in Dunloy, County Antrim, called off its planned appearance at a festival in Larne, County Antrim, because Loyalist posters threatening the group had appeared outside the intended venue.
item mark The 'Birmingham Six' issued a libel writ against David Evans, then Conservative Member of Parliament (MP), when comments he had made about the six men in a school magazine subsequently appeared in the national media.

Wednesday 19 March 1997
item mark Orange Order Halls in Ballymena and Bellaghy were damaged in arson attacks.
item mark The Belfast Walkers Club of the Apprentice Boys of Derry (ABD) announced that they would voluntarily reroute their Easter Monday parade away from the lower Ormeau area of Belfast.

Thursday 20 March 1997
item mark It was announced on behalf of Roisín McAliskey, then being held in prison awaiting a decision about extradition, that she would stand as a 'unity candidate' in Mid-Ulster in the general election. [On 23 March 1997 McAliskey's name was withdrawn as neither Sinn Féin (SF) nor the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) were prepared to stand down.]

Friday 21 March 1997
item mark Brendan Smyth, a Catholic priest convicted of child sex abuse, was released from prison in Northern Ireland and then extradited to the Republic of Ireland to face further charges of abusing children.

Saturday 22 March 1997
item mark The Ulster Unionist Council of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) held its annual meeting in Belfast. David Trimble, then leader of the UUP, criticised "aggressive, loudmouth Unionists" without naming anyone in particular. [Many people took this to be a reference to Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and the DUP issued a statement which called Trimble's comments "vile, vicious, and venomous".]
item mark The Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) held its annual conference. Addressing the conference John Alderdice, then leader of APNI, warned that Northern Ireland could become "Balkanised" by conflict over parades.

Monday 24 March 1997
item mark In the Maze Prison a tunnel was discovered leading from H-Block 7 which housed Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners. The lapse of security drew criticism from many quarters.
item mark David Templeton (43), who was a Presbyterian minister based at Trinity Church in Greyabbey, died six weeks after he had been the subject of a Loyalist 'punishment' attack. He died from a pulmonary embolism after his legs were broken. The Sunday Life had carried a report, 18 months prior to the attack, that customs officers had found an adult gay pornographic video in his possession. No charges had been brought against Templeton in connection with the video. [During an inquest on 12 November 1997 the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) said that it believed that the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) was responsible for the attack.]
death button

Wednesday 26 March 1997
item mark Gareth Doris (19), was shot and seriously wounded by Special Air Service (SAS) undercover soldiers in Coalisland, County Tyrone. It was alleged that Doris was in the act of throwing a bomb at Coalisland Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) station when he was shot. Seamus Rice, a Catholic priest from the area, escaped injury when his car was hit by SAS bullets. A confrontation developed between the SAS and local residents and shots were fired in the air to disperse the crowd. item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) planted two bombs at Windslow Railway Station in the north-west of England. The bombs caused widespread disruption to the rail network.
item mark The IRA also issued its annual Easter statement in which it confirmed its continuing objective of ending British rule, but added the IRA's "willingness to facilitate ... inclusive negotiations".
item mark Following the recommendation of the North Report, the five members of the Parades Commission were named. They were: Alistair Graham, Chairman, who was a former trade unionist; Frank Guckian, a businessman; David Hewitt, a solicitor; Roy Magee, a Presbyterian Minister who helped establish the 1994 Loyalist ceasefire; and Berna McIvor (?), who had been John Hume's election agent. [The appointment of McIvor drew immediate criticisms from the Orange Order.]

Thursday 27 March 1997
item mark The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) uncovered a Loyalist arms cache in Carrickfergus, County Antrim. Loyalist paramilitaries carried out two separate 'punishment' shootings on two men in north Belfast.
item mark Members of the Spirit of Drumcree (SOD) group disrupted a meeting of the County Antrim Orange Order Lodge. The meeting had been called to allow Robert McIlroy, then County Grand Master, to explain the compromise that had been reached between the Lodge and the residents of Dunloy. The compromise had been brokered by Mediation Network. Robert Salters, then Grand Master, criticised Joel Patton, then leader of SOD, for "stirring things up". Patton called on Salters to resign.
item mark The Northern Ireland Prison Service announced changes to the regime at the Maze Prison. Some leisure facilities were withdrawn and more regular head counts were introduced.
item mark One of the main witnesses in Germany against Roisín McAliskey, then being held in prison awaiting a decision about extradition, denied ever seeing her when shown a photograph of McAliskey on Kontraste Sender Freies Berlin, a German television programme. Brian Pearson, a former Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoner, was granted political asylum in the United States of America by a New York immigration court.

Saturday 29 March 1997
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) left a large bomb, estimated at 1,000 lbs, close to a British Army base at Ballykinlar, County Down. The bomb was defused by the army.
item mark An Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer was shot in the leg at Forkhill, County Armagh.
item mark Republican paramilitaries carried out two separate 'punishment' attacks in west Belfast. In one of the attacks a man was shot in the leg, in the other a teenager was beaten.
item mark Loyalist paramilitaries carried out two separate 'punishment' shooting attacks in Belfast. A man was shot in the leg near the Ormeau Road, while a second man was shot in both hands near the Shore Road.
item mark An IRA underground firing range was discovered in the Republic of Ireland near Scotstown, County Monaghan.
item mark Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Labour Party spokesperson on Northern Ireland, said in a radio interview that an IRA ceasefire could allow Sinn Féin (SF) to enter the multi-party Stormont talks on 3 June 1997.

Sunday 30 March 1997
item mark A Loyalist paramilitary group planted a car bomb outside the offices of Sinn Féin (SF) in the New Lodge area of north Belfast. The bomb was defused.
item mark Various Republican groups held commemorations of the Easter Rising, which took place in Dublin in 1916, at locations across Northern Ireland. The groups involved were: SF, Republican SF, the Workers' Party, and the Official Republican Movement.

Monday 31 March 1997
item mark The Belfast Walkers Club of the Apprentice Boys of Derry (ABD) voluntarily rerouted their parade to avoid the lower part of the Ormeau Road.

April 1997

Tuesday 1 April 1997
item mark The Mountpottinger Baptist Tabernacle in east Belfast was damaged in an arson attack. [Initially Catholics were blamed by Sammy Wilson, then a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) councillor. However David Ervine, then a spokesperson for the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), later (on 20 April 1997) said that dissident Loyalists had carried out the attack. This was evidently another attempt to raise general Protestant anger at the Catholic community. This tactic has been used by Loyalists on numerous occasions during the current conflict.] item mark There were arson attacks on several Protestant houses and business in the Dungannon and Coalisland areas. The home of Joel Patton, then leader of Spirit of Drumcree (SOD), was also attacked.
item mark A special court was held in Belfast City Hospital to charge Gareth Doris, who had been shot by the Special Air Service (SAS) in Coalisland on 26 March 1997, with attempted murder and causing an explosion.

Thursday 3 April 1997
item mark There was widespread disruption on the motorways of England when the Irish Republican Army (IRA) warned of bombs on the M1, M5 and M6. Two small bombs were subsequently found by the police. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) intercepted a suspicious package that had been addressed to Kevin McQuillan, then leader of the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP).

Friday 4 April 1997
item mark Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), addressed a rally of the Protestant group 'Right to March' in Portadown.

Saturday 5 April 1997
'Grand National' Cancelled
item mark Two Catholic chapels, St MacNissi's in Randalstown and St Comgall's in Antrim Town, and a Protestant church, St Patrick's in Donoghmore, were damaged by arson attacks. item mark Seamus Mallon, deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), blamed the comments made by Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), in Portadown on 4 April 1997 for fuelling "sectarian hatred". Paisley called Mallon's comments "vile bile".
item mark The 'Grand National' horse race at Aintree in Liverpool had to be abandoned following a hoax warning that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) had planted a bomb at the race course. [In terms of public interest the Grand National is the premier event in the horse racing calendar. There was widespread anger that the race had to be cancelled. Jack Straw, then Labour Party shadow Home Secretary, said that the IRA had "put themselves beyond the pale". This incident was one of a number in which the IRA demonstrated its ability to disrupt the ordinary life of people in Britain at minimum effort and risk on the part of IRA members.]

Monday 7 April 1997
item mark A Catholic chapel, Mullavilly in County Armagh, was destroyed by arsonists and a Protestant parish hall was also damaged in Dungiven, County Derry.
item mark Gary Martin Quinn (33) was charged with four murders dating from 1989 and was also charged with being a member of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a covername used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

Tuesday 8 April 1997
item mark Two men serving life sentences for murders committed in 1994 began their appeal in the High Court in Belfast against their sentences.

Wednesday 9 April 1997
item mark A Catholic man from north Belfast was shot and wounded by Loyalist paramilitaries in Newtownabbey near Belfast.
item mark The Orange Order held a second meeting in County Antrim to discuss the compromise that had been negotiated by Mediation Network on marches in Dunloy. The meeting ended with the Orangemen rejecting all attempts at mediation. item mark Brendan McAllister, then Director of Mediation Network, warned that a "Bosnia-style" conflict could develop over the issue of parades.
item mark John Bruton, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), called on Nationalists in Northern Ireland not to vote for Sinn Féin (SF) in the forthcoming general election. Bruton said that a vote for SF would be a "vote for murder".

Thursday 10 April 1997
item mark A woman Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer was shot and seriously wounded while she was on guard duty outside the Courthouse in the centre of Derry. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out the attack.

Friday 11 April 1997
item mark Seven men were arrested by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). The RUC also recovered a number of weapons including a Barrett Light .50 rifle which was the type of weapon that had been used in a number of Irish Republican Army (IRA) sniper attacks. [Some of the men were charged and some released on 17 April 1997.]
item mark The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) announced that it was withdrawing its candidates from the constituencies of West Tyrone and North Belfast. This move was part of a electoral pact to allow the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) the opportunity to maximise the Unionist vote in the contest against the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and Sinn Féin (SF).

Saturday 12 April 1997
item mark Following a series of attacks and intimidation by Loyalists, eight Catholic families left their homes in the Limestone Road area of north Belfast. There were arson attacks on commercial properties in Armagh, Derry and Portadown.

Sunday 13 April 1997
item mark Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Labour Party Spokesperson on Northern Ireland, announced that she was recovering from treatment for a brain tumour. [Mowlam made the announcement following press comments about her appearance, particularly her gain in weight.]

Monday 14 April 1997
item mark There was an arson attack on St Peter's Catholic church in Stoneyford, County Antrim. The chapel was badly damaged by the fire. A man (24) was seriously injured in what was believed to be a Loyalist 'punishment' shooting that took place in the Ballysally estate in Coleraine, County Derry. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) was believed to be responsible for a 'punishment' beating attack on a man in Derry. The man subsequently went into hiding.
item mark Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, referred the case of Patrick Kane to the Court of Appeal. Kane had been convicted of, and was serving a life sentence for, the murder of corporals Derek Wood and David Howes on 19 March 1988.

Wednesday 16 April 1997
item mark There was an arson attack on St Coleman's Catholic church in Annaclone, County Armagh. The chapel was badly damaged by the fire. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) fired 8 plastic bullets in disturbances involving Catholics and Protestants in Lurgan, County Armagh.
item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), proposed that the best solution for the forthcoming march in Drumcree on 6 July 1997 would be a repeat of the outcome to the march in 1995. This would mean that the Orangemen would walk through the Nationalist Garvaghy Road in silence. This proposal was rejected by the Catholic residents who called for a face-to-face meeting with Trimble.

Thursday 17 April 1997
item mark Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, referred the cases of two Scots Guards to the Life Sentence Review Board. The two British soldiers, Mark Wright and James Fisher, were both serving life sentences for the murder of Peter McBride (18) in the New Lodge area of Belfast (on 4 September 1992).
item mark Of the seven men who were arrested on 11 April 1997, three were released, three charged with various offences, and one man was flown to London for questioning about the Docklands bomb on 9 February 1996. All seven men alleged that they had been beaten while in custody in Gough Barracks in Armagh.
item mark The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools objected to a statement by Julia Neuberger, then Chancellor of the University of Ulster and a Rabbi, in which she criticised the sectarian nature of primary and secondary education in Northern Ireland. Neuberger denied that her statement referred solely to Catholic schools. The University initially defended the remarks but later apologised to the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools.

Friday 18 April 1997
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) planted two bombs and issued a number of other hoax bomb warnings across a number of motorways and railways in England. The bombs and alerts resulted in large-scale disruption.

Sunday 20 April 1997
item mark David Ervine, then a spokesperson for the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), said that dissident Loyalists from the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) had carried out the attack on the Mountpottinger Baptist Tabernacle in east Belfast. Initially Catholics were blamed by Sammy Wilson, then a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) councillor. Ervine said the attack on the Protestant church was an attempt by the LVF to stir up sectarian tension.
item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), addressed the SF Ard Fheis in Monaghan and said that a vote for SF was a vote for peace. He also called for an electoral pact with the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) in areas where a split Nationalist vote would allow a Unionist candidate to win the seat. [The SDLP later rejected his appeal for a pact.]

Monday 21 April 1997
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a series of hoax bomb warnings in central London which caused widespread disruption. A group of men claiming to be members of the Irish People's Liberation Organisation (IPLO) carried out a robbery on the office of a Credit Union in Newry.

Thursday 24 April 1997
item mark Maurice Hayes claimed that Baroness Denton and Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, had misrepresented his report when they claimed that the report "vindicated" Denton's actions. [Hayes was appointed on 10 March 1997 to investigate allegations made in the Irish News on 20 February 1997 that a Catholic woman, who was the victim of sectarian harassment was moved from Denton's office in breach of Fair Employment guidelines.]
item mark The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in Northern Ireland refused to screen a Sinn Féin (SF) party political broadcast. The BBC objected to two scenes in the video which showed David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), at Drumcree and William McCrea, then Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MP, sharing a platform with Billy Wright, then leader of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF).
item mark Robert McCartney, then leader of the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP) , won a libel case against the Irish Times and was awarded £80,000 in damages. The action resulted from an article that appeared in the Irish Times which was written by David Ervine, then a spokesperson for the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP).

Friday 25 April 1997
item mark A Catholic church, St Nicholas's chapel in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, was attacked and damaged by arsonists. The attack was believed to have been carried out by Loyalists.
item mark Billy Wright, then leader of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), was moved to the Maze Prison. The move followed threats made by the LVF against the lives of prison officers, if the prison authorities did not allow LVF inmates to have their own 'wing' in one of the H-blocks at the Maze Prison. Wright and three other LVF prisoner were moved into one wing of H6. The remainder of H6 was occupied by Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) prisoners. [Wright was subsequently shot and killed by the INLA in the prison on 27 December 1997.]
item mark Sinn Féin (SF) lost a court action to try to force the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to broadcast the whole of its election video.

Sunday 27 April 1997
item mark Robert Hamill, a Catholic civilian, was severely beaten in a sectarian attack by a gang of up to 30 loyalists in the centre of Portadown, County Armagh. [Hamill died from head injuries on 8 May 1997.] Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers were present close to the scene of the attack in a police vehicle some 30 meters away and were accused by witnesses and Hamill's family of not intervening to save him. [The Independent Commission for Police Complaints later began an investigation into the incident.]
item mark A teenager from Lurgan was shot and injured by a plastic bullet which was fired by the British Army. The RUC prevented an Orange march from walking through the Nationalist lower Ormeau Road area of Belfast. The Orangemen staged a protest for several hours at the police line.
item mark Bertie Ahern, then leader of Fianna Fáil (FF), criticised John Bruton, the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), for his handling of the peace process.

Monday 28 April 1997
item mark A car bomb was planted by Loyalist paramilitaries outside the Falls Road office of Sinn Féin (SF). The bomb was defused. Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) prisoners at Maghaberry Prison held a prison officer hostage at gunpoint before giving themselves up. The prisoners were protesting at the transfer of Billy Wright, then leader of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), from Maghaberry to the Maze Prison. [The INLA killed Wright in the Maze Prison on 27 December 1997.] Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, approved tighter security measures in the Maze Prison following the discovery of an escape tunnel on 24 March 1997.
item mark John Major, then British Prime Minister, paid an election campaign visit to Belfast. Tony Blair, then leader of the Labour Party, called on the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to renew their ceasefire and to agree to the Mitchell principles, and then to "take their place at the talks table".

Tuesday 29 April 1997
item mark Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) prisoners caused a riot and staged a protest on top of the roofs of blocks H1 and H2 in the Maze Prison. There were protesting at the tighter security rules that were approved on 28 April 1997. The Loyalist prisoners said that the new rules should only apply to Republican prisoners.
item mark John Major, then British Prime Minister, in an article in the Irish Times said that "some decommissioning would have to take place during talks" but he indicated that Sinn Féin (SF) could enter the talks when there was an Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire.

May 1997

Thursday 1 May 1997
General Election
item mark A general election was held across the United Kingdom (UK). [When all the votes were counted the Labour Party had won a majority in the House of Commons of 147 seats and had returned to power for the first time since 1979.] item mark In Northern Ireland the biggest election news was that Sinn Féin (SF) had increased its share of the vote to 16.1 per cent to become the third largest party in the region. SF won two seats, one in West Belfast where Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), was elected and one in Mid-Ulster where Martin McGuinness, the Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), beat William McCrea of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). The other results were: Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) won 10 seats with 32.7 per cent of the vote; the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) won three seats and 24.1 per cent of the vote; the DUP won two seats and 13.6 per cent of the vote; and the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP) won one seat.

Saturday 3 May 1997
Mowlam Appointed Secretary of State
item mark Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, appointed Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam as the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Mowlam travelled to Belfast and visited shoppers in the centre of the city. Mowlam said that she was keen to implement a number of 'confidence building measures' such as employment equality, reform of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), and the recommendations of the The North Report on parades and marches. She also said that Sinn Féin (SF) could enter the talks process when there was a renewed Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire. [SF later responded to the comments of Mowlam by saying that they were "ready to do business with the British government".] item mark [In terms of the peace process the election of a Labour government with a large working majority was to provide new momentum in the search for a political settlement to the conflict.]

Monday 5 May 1997
item mark The new Ministers of State at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) were announced. Adam Ingram - Minister for Security, and Economic Development; Paul Murphy - Political and Constitutional Affairs, and Finance and Information; Tony Worthington - Education, Training, Welfare, Health, and Employment Equality; Lord Dubs - Agriculture, Environment, and NIO representative in the House of Lords.

Tuesday 6 May 1997
item mark The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) banned a parade planned by Apprentice Boys of Derry (ABD) for Saturday 10 May 1997. The march was intending to pass through the Nationalist lower Ormeau Road area of Belfast. item mark The Royal Black Preceptory announced that it had taken the decision not to proceed with its forthcoming march in Dunloy, County Antrim.
item mark There was a gala opening of the new Waterfront Hall in Belfast. The Prince of Wales carried out the official opening of the new concert complex.

Wednesday 7 May 1997
item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), paid a visit to Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, in Downing Street, London. Trimble had asked to see Blair before the Prime Minister held a meeting with John Bruton, the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), on 8 May 1997. Bruton was invited to speak at the Oxford Union where he said that a new Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire was inevitable.

Thursday 8 May 1997
Robert Hamill Killing
item mark Robert Hamill (25), a Catholic civilian, died as a result of injuries sustained in a sectarian attack in the centre of Portadown on 27 April 1997. Hamill, who left a wife and three children, had been savagely beaten by a loyalist gang and it was claimed that Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers sitting in a police vehicle some 30 meters away did not intervene to save him. [The Independent Commission for Police Complaints later began an investigation into the incident. On the 16 November 2004 Paul Murphy, then Secretary of State, announced the terms of reference for a public Inquiry into the death of Robert Hamill. Full public hearings began on 13 January 2009.]
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item mark Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced that the period of notice required for a parade or march to be held would be extended from 7 days to 21. The RUC would in future be empowered to confiscate alcohol from those taking part in parades.
item mark The County Tyrone Grand Orange Lodge held a meeting and decided to endorse the agreement reached between local Orangemen and residents of Dromore village. Members of the Spirit of Drumcree (SOD) tried to have the deal overturned but their motion was rejected by 68 votes to 9.
item mark John Bruton, the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), held a meeting with Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, at Downing Street. Bruton described Blair as an "improvement for the better in all the issues as far as Ireland is concerned."

Friday 9 May 1997
item mark Darren Bradshaw (24), a suspended Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer, was shot dead by the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) as he drank with friends in the Parliament Bar in Belfast. [The Parliament Bar was frequented by members of Belfast's gay community.]
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Monday 12 May 1997
item mark Sean Brown (61), a Catholic civilian, was abducted by members of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) as he locked the gates of Bellaghy Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). Brown was beaten before being shot dead and his body was found the next day beside his burnt-out car at Randalstown, County Antrim. Brown who left a wife and six children was a GAA official and was often the last person to leave the Bellaghy GAA club. [On 19 January 2004 the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland published a report that was highly critical of the police investigation into Brown's killing (PDF File; 432KB).]
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item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), called on the new Labour government to make an early statement setting out its position on Northern Ireland.

Tuesday 13 May 1997
item mark Martin McGuinness, then Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF) and MP for Mid-Ulster, paid a visit to Roisín McAliskey, then being held in Holloway Prison awaiting a decision about extradition. McGuinness described McAliskey's treatment as "inhuman and degrading".

Wednesday 14 May 1997
item mark Gunmen tried to kill a taxi driver in Milford village, County Armagh. The attempt failed when the gun jammed. The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) was believed to be responsible for the attack.
Betty Boothroyd, then Speaker of the House of Commons, ruled that the two Sinn Féin (SF) MPs would not be given office facilities at Westminster because they had refused to take their seats in the House. In the Queen's speech setting out the Labour governments legislative plans it was announced that the North Report on parades and marches would be implemented in 1998. In addition the European Convention on Human Rights would be incorporated into forthcoming legislation on Northern Ireland.

Friday 16 May 1997
Blair Keynote Speech
item mark Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, travelled to Belfast to deliver an important speech on Northern Ireland. Blair reaffirmed his government's commitment to the Framework Document, the Mitchell Report on decommissioning and the ground rules for entry into all-party talks. Blair also said that he valued Northern Ireland's place in the United Kingdom (UK) and suggested that the Republic of Ireland should amend Articles 2 and 3 of its constitution. The Prime Minister also said that government officials would meet with representatives of Sinn Féin (SF) in order to allow a number of issues to be clarified.
item mark Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), said that all those Loyalist paramilitary organisations represented by the Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) had broken their ceasefire since it was declared in October 1994.

Saturday 17 May 1997
item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), held a meeting with officials representing the Irish government at an undisclosed venue in Dublin. John Bruton, the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), said afterwards that the meeting was to establish if the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was prepared to call a new ceasefire.

Monday 19 May 1997
item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), and Martin McGuinness, then Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), travelled to Westminster to press their case for facilities within the House of Commons. The two SF Members of Parliament (MPs) were denied access to the House when they refused to take their seats which would have involved taking an oath of allegiance to the Queen.

Tuesday 20 May 1997
item mark John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), tabled a motion in the House of Commons calling on the British government to conduct a new inquiry into the events of 'Bloody Sunday' in Derry on 30 January 1972. Jack Straw, then British Home Secretary, announced that two Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners, Danny McNamee and Liam McCotter, would be transferred to prisons in Northern Ireland.

Wednesday 21 May 1997
Local Government Elections
item mark There were elections to the 26 District Councils across Northern Ireland. [When the counting of the votes was completed (most results were available by Friday 23 May 1997) the share of the first preference votes was: Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) - 27.8 per cent; Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) - 20.7 per cent; Sinn Féin (SF) - 16.9 per cent; Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) - 15.6 per cent; Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) - 6.6 per cent; and other parties - 12.5 per cent. The most significant result of the election was that Unionists lost control of Belfast City Council for the first time in its history. Unionists also lost control of the district councils in Fermanagh, Strabane, and Cookstown. The SDLP lost overall control of Derry City Council because of gains made by SF. SF increased its share of the vote and took 70 seats in total.]
item mark Representatives of SF met with British officials at Stormont, Belfast. This was the first such meeting since the ending of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire on 9 February 1997. Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, held meetings with Nationalist residents groups of three areas where Orange Order parades were proving controversial. The areas visited were, Dunloy village in County Antrim, the lower Ormeau Road of Belfast, and the Garvaghy Road in Portadown, County Antrim. Unionists criticised the meetings on the day of the local government elections. Mowlam also made a comment on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) programme Newsnight that, "the [settlement] train might leave the station without Unionists". [She was later forced to retract the comment.]

Friday 23 May 1997
item mark John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), held a meeting with David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), to discuss the difficulties posed by the forthcoming 'marching season', particularly the Drumcree march in Portadown, County Armagh.

Saturday 24 May 1997
item mark A bomb was planted in Dundalk in the Republic of Ireland; the bomb was defused by Gardaí. The bomb was believed to have been planted by the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF).
item mark Loyalists, who were continuing their picket of the Catholic church at Harryville in Ballymena, County Antrim, attacked Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers who were protecting those Catholics attending the mass.

Monday 26 May 1997
item mark Gransha High School in Bangor, County Down was seriously damaged in an arson attack.
Dick Spring, then Tánaiste (deputy Irish Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs), held a meeting in Derry with John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). Following the meeting Spring said that a vote for Sinn Féin (SF) was "a vote for peace". This contradicted his coalition partner John Bruton, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), who had previously said that a vote for SF was a vote for the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
item mark Roisín McAliskey, then being held in prison awaiting a decision about extradition, gave birth to a baby girl (5lb 13oz) at Whittington Hospital in London.

Wednesday 28 May 1997
item mark The civil liberties group Human Rights Watch published a report that was highly critical of the actions of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) during the events surrounding Drumcree in July 1996. The report claimed that the RUC had used excessive force, been indiscriminate in its use of plastic bullets, failed to remove illegal roadblocks manned by the Orange Order and Loyalists, and had abandoned its "traditional policing function in some areas".
item mark Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, held a meeting with representatives of the Apprentice Boys of Derry (ABD), the Grand Orange Lodge, Ballynafeigh Orangemen, and the Ulster Civil Rights group. The meeting was called to discuss the forthcoming 'marching season'.
item mark John Bruton, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), briefed the relatives of those killed on 'Bloody Sunday' on a report being prepared by the Irish government on the killings on 30 January 1972. Bruton said that a "grave injustice" had been done to the families of the dead. [The report contained new information on events of the day and was eventually presented to the British government.]

Thursday 29 May 1997
item mark Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America, paid a visit to London. During a meeting with Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, Clinton gave his support to the Labour government's approach to Northern Ireland. Clinton called for a renewed Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire and for Sinn Féin (SF) to be then allowed to enter all-party talks.
item mark Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and Dick Spring, the Tánaiste (deputy Irish Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs), held a meeting at Malahide near Dublin, Republic of Ireland.
item mark Eight Loyalist prisoners asked the prison authorities to be moved to the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) 'wing' of the Maze Prison.

Friday 30 May 1997
item mark Representatives of all of Northern Ireland political parties flew to South Africa for a conference with those who had negotiated the peace settlement in that country. The conference was organised by Padraig O'Malley. Unionists only agreed to take part after assurances that there would be separate facilities so as to avoid direct contact with the Sinn Féin (SF) representatives.
item mark Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), gave an interview to the BBC in which he said that major reform of the RUC would take place following an Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire.

Saturday 31 May 1997
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) was forced to abandon a bomb in the Poleglass area of Belfast. John Bruton, the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), called a halt to all further contacts between officials of the Irish government and Sinn Féin (SF).
item mark Loyalist protesters staging a picket outside the Catholic church in Harryville, Ballymena, blocked the road to deny access to the chapel. One man was arrested by the police for disorderly conduct.

June 1997

Sunday 1 June 1997
item mark Gregory Taylor (41), an off-duty Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Constable, died following a beating he received from a Loyalist mob. Taylor was beaten and kicked to death outside a pub in Ballymoney, County Antrim, by a group of Loyalist bandsmen. Taylor had been attacked after a row over the RUC's position on a Apprentice Boys of Derry parade in Dunloy, County Antrim. [It was later disclosed that Taylor had used his mobile phone to try to summon help, prior to the attack, from the local police station but no car was available to come to his aid. Initially eight men were charged with his murder including the son of an RUC officer, but a number of these were released when the case came to trial. Two men were sentenced to life imprisonment but were later released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. Two other men pleaded guilty to manslaughter and were sentenced to four years imprisonment.]
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Monday 2 June 1997
First Nationalist Mayor of Belfast
item mark Alban Maginness, then a Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) councillor in Belfast was elected Lord Mayor of the city. This was the first time that a Nationalist had been elected as mayor. Jim Rodgers of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) was elected deputy Lord Mayor.

Tuesday 3 June 1997
Stormont Talks Resumed
item mark The multi-party talks resumed at Stormont following a break to allow the local government elections to be contested on 20 May 1997.
item mark The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) and the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) were both proscribed (declared illegal organisations). 15 LVF prisoners began a hunger strike at the Maze Prison in protest at what they alleged was maltreatment by the prison authorities.
item mark Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, was heckled when she addressed the Northern Ireland Police Federation annual conference in Newcastle, County Down. Les Rodgers, then Chairman of the Police Federation, criticised the Labour governments plans for reform of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). Rodgers also criticised some Unionist politicians for "mindless incitement" which he believed had led to violence against RUC officers including the attack on Gregory Taylor on 1 June 1997.
item mark Roisín McAliskey, then being held awaiting a decision about extradition, was granted bail so as to allow her to be moved to a secure unit of Mandsley psychiatric hospital. McAliskey was reported as suffering from depression.

Wednesday 4 June 1997
item mark The Gardaí shot and wounded an armed robber, John Morris (26), in Inchicore, Dublin. Two other robbers were arrested at the scene. [Morris died on 5 June 1997 from his wounds. The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) later said that Morris was one of its members. It was also later learned that no shots had been fired at the Gardaí during the robbery.]
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item mark The Armagh Grand Orange Lodge wrote a letter to the residents of the Nationalist Garvaghy Road setting out the Lodge's reasons for wishing to parade through the area in July 1997. The Residents' Coalition demanded a public meeting with the Orange Order on the issue.

Friday 6 June 1997
General Election in Republic of Ireland
item mark There was a general election in the Republic of Ireland. [When the count was finished the ruling coalition government of Fine Gael, Labour, and Democratic Left, obtained 77 seats but was defeated by a coalition of Fianna Fáil, Progressive Democrats, and a number of independents, who obtained 81 seats. Sinn Féin (SF) won its first seat in the Daíl since its decision in 1986 to end its policy of abstentionism. The incoming government was led by Bertie Ahern who became the new Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister). On 26 June 1997 Ahern finished appointment of his cabinet.]
item mark The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) proposed ignoring the question of decommissioning so long as SF were excluded from the talks. David Trimble, then leader of the UUP, said that SF could only enter talks when the Irish Republican Army (IRA) had called a ceasefire and handed over some of its weapons. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) derided the Northern Ireland Women's Coalition (NIWC) as being comprised of "feckless women" with "limited intellect".

Sunday 8 June 1997
item mark During the continuing protest by Loyalist pickets at the Catholic church at Harryville, Ballymena, there was an attempt to burn down the chapel. A parade of bands had been organised and there were violent confrontations between the Loyalists and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) with 27 officers being injured. A number of plastic bullets were fired at the demonstrators.
item mark Sean McNally (24) had to have his leg amputated following a 'punishment' shooting involving a shotgun.

Monday 9 June 1997
item mark The Independent Commission for Police Complaints published its annual report. The report showed that the Commission had investigated 2,540 complaints against the police during 1996 of which 12 per cent resulted in disciplinary charges or informal action.

Tuesday 10 June 1997
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) admitted that it was responsible for a gun attack on a British Army patrol in Derry. There were no injuries during the attack.
item mark The Ministry of Defence admitted that a batch of 90,000 plastic bullets that had been delivered to the security forces in Northern Ireland were faulty. The bullets had a faster muzzle velocity that was publicly stipulated. From the original batch, 8,300 had been fired over the previous year.
item mark The Garvaghy Residents Coalition in Portadown, County Armagh, sent a letter to Orangemen in Portadown asking for a "mutual apology for any hurt, offence or injustice".

Wednesday 11 June 1997
item mark Robert ('Basher') Bates (48), a former leading member of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) 'Shankill Butchers' gang, was shot dead while opening the Ex-Prisoners Information Centre on Woodvale Road, Belfast. [Initially Republican paramilitaries were blamed for the killing but all the groups denied any involvement, and it later became clear that Loyalist paramilitaries were responsible. Bates had pleaded guilty in January 1979 to 10 murders. Most of the victims were Catholics who were abducted, tortured, and killed with butcher knives, hatchets and sometimes guns. One of Bates' victims was James Moorehead (30) who at the time was a member of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). It was believed that Bates was killed in retaliation for his part in the murder of Moorehead.]
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item mark The Queen paid a visit to Northern Ireland and travelled to Dungannon, Belfast, and Hillsborough Castle where a garden reception for 2,000 people was held.
item mark The police and customs officials carried out a series of raids in Britain and Ireland and broke up a drugs gang which had links to the UDA. Police seized £6 million pounds of property, £2 million pounds of illicit alcohol, and £500,000 in cash.

Thursday 12 June 1997
item mark The main two morning newspapers in Northern Ireland, the Newsletter which is mainly read by unionists and the Irish News which is mainly read by nationalists, joined together to publish a joint editorial on their front pages. The editorial called for an agreement on the Drumcree parade scheduled for Sunday 6 July 1997. The suggestion by the two papers was that the Garvaghy Road residents would allow the 1997 parade to proceed while the Orange Order would agree to reroute the 1998 parade away from the Garvaghy Road. [This proposal was eventually rejected.] item mark A public meeting of the Parades Commission in Portadown, County Armagh, was disrupted by hecklers.

Friday 13 June 1997
item mark Martin Gavin (21), a Catholic civilian and a member of the travelling community, was viciously attacked by five Loyalists and left for dead. Gavin was approached by the men who called him a "Fenian bastard" and then savagely beat him, fracturing his skull, before cutting his throat, his head and his hand. Gavin required 50 stitches in his neck and head. [This sectarian attack was similar in its manner to those that had been carried out by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) 'Shankill Butchers' gang during the 1970s. The attack came a few days after the killing, on Wednesday 11 June 1997, of Robert ('Basher') Bates who had been a leading member of the 'Shankill Butchers'.]
item mark The Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) alleged that two of its members had been "abducted and interrogated" by the (provisional) IRA.

Monday 16 June 1997
Two RUC Officers Killed by IRA
item mark Roland John Graham (34), a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer, and David Andrew Johnston (30), a RUC reserve officer, were shot dead in Lurgan, County Armagh. The two officers were shot from close range from behind. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) admitted responsibility for the killings. The two men were survived by five children. [The RUC officers were the first to be killed by the IRA since the ending of its ceasefire on 9 February 1996.]
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Tuesday 17 June 1997
item mark There were arson attacks on the homes of two Prison Officers. [The attacks were blamed on the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).]
item mark Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, held separate meetings with representatives of the Orange Order and representatives of the residents of the Garvaghy Road in an attempt to find a settlement to the dispute over the parade planned for Sunday 6 July 1997.

Friday 20 June 1997
item mark Patrick Kane, then serving a life sentence for the murders of corporals Derek Wood and David Howes on 19 March 1988, was cleared of the killings by the Court of Appeal in Belfast. Mickey Timmons and John Kelly, the other members of the 'Casement Three', continued to insist that they were also innocent of the killings.
item mark Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, paid a visit to the United States of America (USA). During the visit he said: "a moment of decision is coming for Sinn Féin (SF) and the IRA [Irish Republican Army] as to whether they want to be any part of a forward process that is going to lead to a lasting settlement for peace".

Saturday 21 June 1997
item mark Loyalist paramilitaries carried out a booby-trap bomb attack on a car in Claremont Street in south Belfast. Three men were injured in the attack.
item mark Séan Connolly, a Catholic priest based at the chapel in Harryville, Ballymena, announced that services would be suspended until 8 September 1997. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) had informed Connolly that it could not guarantee the safety of those wishing to attend services at the chapel on 12 July 1997. The decision to suspend the services over the 'marching season' was taken following 41 weeks of picketing by Loyalists outside the chapel.

Sunday 22 June 1997
item mark Martin McGuinness, then Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), addressed SF's annual Wolfe Tone commemoration and called for the "removal of decommissioning as an obstacle" to SF entering the all-party talks process.
item mark There were a number of Orange Order parades across Northern Ireland, some of which were rerouted away from Nationalist areas. Marches passed off relatively peacefully in Bellaghy, County Derry, and Keady, County Armagh. In Mountfield, County Tyrone, Orangemen accused the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) of capitulating to Nationalists. The Orange Order warned that the peaceful parades did not mean that there would not be a stand-off at Drumcree on 6 July 1997 if the march was not allowed down the Garvaghy Road.

Monday 23 June 1997
item mark The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) warned 13 Catholics that their names were on a Loyalist paramilitary 'hit list'.
item mark Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, held a meeting with residents from the Bogside area of Derry to discuss the 'marching season'.
item mark The British and Irish governments agreed to appoint a sub-committee of the talks to decide on the issue of decommissioning of paramilitary weapons. A Document on Decommissioning was published.
item mark United Technology Automotive in Derry announced that it was closing its factory in the Creggan area of the city with the loss of all 525 jobs. [This was a severe blow to an area of high unemployment.]

Wednesday 25 June 1997
item mark The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) carried out a search of a house in Dunmurray, Belfast, and found a number of AK47 rifles. The police had earlier gone to the wrong address.
item mark Four members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) were sentenced to imprisonment in connection with an incident in which they put on an armed "show of strength" for a television camera crew in Blackskull, County Armagh. Colin Duffy was charged with the murder of two RUC officers in Lurgan on 16 June 1997. Duffy's solicitor alleged that the RUC had mistreated Duffy while in custody.
item mark The British and Irish governments announced that they were giving the Irish Republican Army (IRA) a period of five weeks during which to call an unequivocal ceasefire. Following any ceasefire a further period of six weeks would then elapse before Sinn Féin (SF) could enter the talks at Stormont when they resumed on 15 September 1997. The talks were scheduled to conclude in May 1998. [SF later called for "clarification" of the statement but were told that they would not be given any.]

Thursday 26 June 1997
item mark The Fianna Fáil (FF) party appointed Ray Burke as Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs. It was also announced that David Andrews (FF) would be Minister for Defence and Liz O'Donnell (Progressive Democrats) would be Junior Minister for Foreign Affairs, and that both these ministers would assist Burke at Stormont. [These appointments were part of the cabinet announced by Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), following the general election in the Republic of Ireland on 6 June 1997.]

Saturday 28 June 1997
item mark Following an Orange Order parade on the Springfield Road in west Belfast there were scuffles between the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and nationalists.

Sunday 29 June 1997
item mark The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) rerouted an Orange Order parade that was seeking to pass through the Nationalist lower Ormeau Road area in Belfast.

July 1997

Tuesday 1 July 1997
item mark The offices of the Irish News were slightly damaged in an arson attack.
item mark The Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition announced that they were organising a street festival for Sunday 6 July 1997. This would coincide with the disputed Orange Parade. Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), and his ministerial team held talks in Belfast with Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, about the 'marching season'. Ahern said that it would be a mistake to force the march along the Garvaghy Road. The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) said that they would only announce their decision on whether or not the march could proceed along the Garvaghy Road, two or three days in advance. This was in spite of a promise by Mowlam to reveal the decision at lease six days in advance.

Wednesday 2 July 1997
item mark The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) threatened to kill people living in the Republic of Ireland if the Drumcree parade planned for 6 July 1997 was not allowed to proceed through the Nationalist Garvaghy Road. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) announced that they were banning the planned festival on 6 July 1997 on the Garvaghy Road. Residents reacted by establishing a women's peace camp beside the road.
item mark In London six members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) were each given prison sentences of 35 years for conspiracy to cause explosions in London. [No explosives were ever found in connection with this case and many people were shocked by the length of the sentences.] In a court decision in Belfast Judge Girvin ruled that Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, could reconsider the early release of two British soldiers serving life sentences for the murder of Peter McBride on 4 September 1992. McBride's father interrupted the court proceedings to protest at the decision. [The two Scots Guards had stopped McBride in the street and searched him. McBride ran away from the soldiers and they shot him in the back.]

Thursday 3 July 1997
item mark Relatives of those killed on 'Bloody Sunday' presented a 40,000 signature petition for a new inquiry into the killings to Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, held a meeting at 10 Downing Street with Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), to discuss matters related to Northern Ireland and in particular the Drumcree parade on 6 July 1997. Ahern said that it would be a mistake to force the march along the Garvaghy Road. Mowlam held meetings with the heads of the security services about Drumcree.

Friday 4 July 1997
item mark 60 families had to be evacuated for a time from their homes on the Garvaghy Road, Portadown, following a bomb warning from Loyalist paramilitaries. As tension mounted in the run-up to the planned Drumcree parade on 6 July 1997, thousands of people left Northern Ireland to avoid the kind of trouble and disruption witnessed in 1996.

Sunday 6 July 1997
item mark Drumcree Parade - 'Drumcree III'
At 3.00am the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), in large numbers, entered the Garvaghy Road area of Portadown to ensure that the path of the planned Orange Order parade was free for the marchers. Police officers sealed off both sides of the road and kept the Catholic residents hemmed into their homes and side streets. These actions sparked rioting in the area. The RUC were supported by hundreds of British soldiers. Residents were unable to get to the local Catholic chapel and five priests celebrated an open-air mass in front of British Army armoured vehicles. [Some people speculated that this was the first time since the 'penal laws' that British soldiers had prevented Catholics from attending mass.] At 12.00pm the Orange Order parade passed along the Garvaghy Road. Approximately 1,200 Orangemen passed through the Nationalist area. item mark Following the march there was further rioting in the Garvaghy Road and other Nationalist areas of Northern Ireland particularly in Derry and Belfast. item mark In Lurgan a train was stopped and two coaches were destroyed when it was set on fire. item mark Republican paramilitaries fired shots in north Belfast and injured a Protestant teenager. item mark A Catholic boy aged 14 was critically injured when shot in the head by a plastic bullet. [He spent three days in a coma and was released from hospital on 22 July 1997.] item mark Later Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), said that he had decided to force the march through the Garvaghy Road because of threats of violence by Loyalist paramilitaries. [This was the third year in a row that the Orange Order parade at Drumcree had been the source of trouble. In 1995 the 'Siege of Drumcree' began on Sunday 9 July 1995 and ended on Tuesday 11 July 1995 when the residents agreed that 500 Orange men should be allowed to walk down the Garvaghy Road. In 1996 there was another 'stand-off' which began on Sunday 7 July 1996 and which lasted until Thursday 11 July 1996 when the RUC changed its mind and decided to force the march through the Garvaghy Road.]

Monday 7 July 1997
item mark Brian Morton (age?), then a Ulster Defence Association (UDA) commander, was killed as he handled an explosive device at an arms dump in Dunmurray, near Belfast.
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item mark There was continuing widespread violence in Nationalist areas of Northern Ireland. The Automobile Association issued a warning that the area of Newry was "completely impassable", and a number of vehicles were hijacked in Derry and Belfast. It was estimated that the damage to property was in the region of £20 million pounds. Over 100 people were believed to have been injured with six considered serious. By the end of the day the RUC estimated that 1,600 plastic bullets had been fired, there had been 550 attacks on the security forces, and 41 people arrested. The fire service had received 500 calls and the ambulance service 150.
item mark Gora Ebrahim, then a South African Member of Parliament (MP) and an independent observer, said that the scenes on the Garvaghy Road when the RUC cleared Nationalists from the road were reminiscent of police brutality in Sharpeville. He said that he believed the decision to force the parade through the area had come from a higher authority than the RUC.

Tuesday 8 July 1997
item mark The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) threatened to attack Orangemen whom it viewed as responsible for forcing parades through Nationalist areas. The Dublin to Belfast train was stopped at Newry and damaged by petrol bombs. The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) joined together to stage an armed paramilitary display which was recorded and broadcast by Ulster Television (UTV). The UDA and UVF claimed that the display was intended to "reassure and calm Protestants".
item mark A Northern Ireland Office (NIO) document was leaked to the media. The document suggested that the decision to allow the Drumcree parade to proceed down the Garvaghy Road on 6 July 1997 had been taken by Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in conjunction with security leaders as early as 21 June 1997. This in spite of Mowlam's assertion that the decision was not made until the eve of the march. Mowlam subsequently launched an inquiry into who leaked the document.
item mark Nationalists, who were still protesting against the events at the Garvaghy Road, announced that they would block Orange Order parades planned for 12 July 1997 from passing through Nationalist areas in Armagh, Bellaghy, Belfast (lower Ormeau Road), Derry, Newry, and Strabane. People in these areas called for Nationalist to travel to the parade routes to add their support for rerouting of the planned parades.

Wednesday 9 July 1997
item mark At the end of four days of rioting and disturbances the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) released figures which showed that: there had been 60 RUC officers injured; 56 civilians injured; 117 people arrested; 2,500 plastic bullets fired by the security forces; 815 attacks on the security forces; 1,506 petrol bombs thrown; and 402 hijackings.
item mark The British government promised Sinn Féin (SF) that in the event of an Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire, representatives of SF would be allowed to meet with government ministers.

Thursday 10 July 1997
item mark Among growing tension in the run-up to the parades planned for 12 July 1997 and talk of potential civil war, the Orange Order said that it would voluntarily reroute six contentious parades from Nationalist areas. Hard-line members of the Orange Order accused the leadership of betrayal but the decision was praised in many quarters.

Friday 11 July 1997
item mark Following discussions with local residents, Orangemen agreed to reroute a parade in Newtownbutler, County Fermanagh. [The village is roughly 80 per cent Catholic. The decision by the Orange Order to hold discussions with local residents differed from other areas where Orangemen refused to hold face-to-face discussions with resident groups.]

Saturday 12 July 1997
item mark The 'Twelfth' Orange Order parades across Northern Ireland passed off relatively peacefully with only minor incidents. There were some stones thrown in the White City area of Belfast. Two Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers and three soldiers were slightly injured in an Irish Republican Army (IRA) attack in north Belfast.
item mark John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), held a meeting with Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, and called on the IRA to announce a new ceasefire.
An RUC Landrover, being used to police an Orange Order parade at Dunloy, appeared with a handpainted rat with a crown and the words "King Rat". ['King Rat' was the nickname of Billy Wright, then leader of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF). Wright was believed to have been responsible for the deaths of many innocent Catholic civilians.] The relative of one of his victims called on the RUC to take immediate disciplinary action against the officers responsible for the painting.

Sunday 13 July 1997
item mark The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) uncovered 500 pounds of explosives and three booster charges in the Creggan area of Derry.

Monday 14 July 1997
item mark The Royal Black Preceptory decided to voluntarily rerouted a parade that had been planned to pass through the centre of Newry, County Down.
item mark An article in the Irish Times revealed that the British government had maintained regular contacts with the Republican movement since late June. Unionists called for the imposition of stringent rules on the decommissioning of arms as a precondition for the entry of Sinn Féin (SF) into all-party talks.

Tuesday 15 July 1997
item mark Bernadette Martin (18), a Catholic civilian, was killed when she was shot four times in the head as she lay asleep in the home of her Protestant boyfriend's parents at Aghalee, County Armagh. Although no organisation admitted responsibility ('no claim, no blame') the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and Nationalists were certain that the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) was responsible for the killing. [The manner in which Bernadette Martin was killed caused revulsion across Northern Ireland.]
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Wednesday 16 July 1997
item mark Two men appeared in a Dublin court and were charged with the capital murder of Gerry McCabe, who had been a Garda officer, in June 1996.
item mark The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP) walked out of the Stormont talks in protest at what they claimed was a lack of clarification by the British government on the issue of decommissioning.
item mark Alistair Simpson, then governor of the Apprentice Boys of Derry (ABD), said that he would not talk to the Bogside Residents Group (BRG) about the forthcoming ABD parade in the city. The reason given was that one of the spokespersons for the BRG had served a sentence for paramilitary involvement.

Friday 18 July 1997
item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), and Martin McGuinness, then Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), both called on the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to renew its ceasefire. [Most commentators felt that this statement meant that an IRA ceasefire was imminent.] John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and Adams also issued a joint statement.

Saturday 19 July 1997
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a statement which announced that there would be a renewal of its 1994 ceasefire as of 12.00pm on 20 July 1997. Following the announcement the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP) said that the two parties would not be a part of the talks process.

Sunday 20 July 1997
Renewed IRA Ceasefire
item mark At 12.00pm the renewed Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire began. There was a report in the Sunday Tribune (a Dublin newspaper) which claimed that the IRA ceasefire would be limited to four months duration dependant on progress during the talks. [Sinn Féin (SF) later denied there was any truth in the report.] [While most people welcomed the renewed ceasefire, Unionist politicians were highly sceptical of the intentions of the Republican movement.]

Monday 21 July 1997
item mark Following a meeting with Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), said that he could not support the proposals on decommissioning being put forward by the British and Irish governments. SF representatives were admitted to Castle Buildings in Stormont, Belfast, in order to establish their offices for the forthcoming talks. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP) immediately left the building and urged the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) to do likewise.

Tuesday 22 July 1997
item mark The relatives of the 33 people killed by bombs in Dublin and Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland on 17 May 1974, said that they would take the case to Europe because of the failure of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) to establish a murder inquiry.
item mark A Catholic boy aged 14 who had been critically injured when shot in the head by a plastic bullet on 7 July 1997 was released from hospital. He had spent three days in a coma.
item mark Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, wrote (?) an article in response to the renewal of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire on 20 July 1997.

Wednesday 23 July 1997
item mark A document containing proposals on decommissioning that had been prepared by the British and Irish governments was rejected by the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) during a meeting at Stormont. Despite this outcome the two governments insisted that substantive negotiations would begin at Stormont on 15 September 1997.
item mark In the European Parliament, MEPs from many countries supported a call for the release of files related to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings in the Republic of Ireland on 17 May 1974 which resulted in the deaths of 33 people. The relatives of those killed claimed that the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) had hampered the investigations of the Garda Síochána (the Irish police) . [Although the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) admitted responsibility for the bombs many commentators claimed that there had also been British Intelligence involvement.]

Thursday 24 July 1997
item mark James Morgan (16), a Catholic civilian, was abducted after he accepted a lift in a car while travelling from Newcastle to Annsborourgh, County Down. [Morgan's body was found on 27 July 1997. He had been tortured before being killed and his body was dumped in a water-logged pit full of animal parts. No group claimed responsibility for his killing but it was believed by most commentators that the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) was responsible. To the astonishment of many people the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) did not ascribe a sectarian motive to the abduction and killing until 28 July 1997.]
item mark What was described as a "crude parcel bomb" was delivered by post to the office of Robert McCartney, then leader of the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP), at his office in Stormont. The device was defused by the British Army. McCartney was on holiday at the time of the incident.
David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), said that it was important for Unionists to remain in the talks in order to win the propaganda war. He also said that Sinn Féin (SF) would eventually have to accept a partitionist solution to the conflict.
item mark John Kelly, then a SF Councillor in Magherafelt, issued an apology to Protestants in Maghera and Swinford for "wanton acts of sectarian vandalism" when Nationalists engaged in rioting following the events at Drumcree.
item mark The 'Birmingham Six' said that they would seek compensation in the European Court after Jack Straw, then British Home Secretary, said that he would not meet them to reconsider their case. [The six men each received £200,000 compensation (in addition to some interim payments) as compensation for 16 years of wrongful imprisonment. The men were also looking for an apology from the British government.]

Friday 25 July 1997
item mark The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) uncovered eight 'coffee-jar bombs' near Pomeroy, County Tyrone. Garda Síochána (the Irish police) discovered 20 handguns that were being smuggled into the port of Dublin. [Security sources claimed that the guns were intended for Official Republicans based in the area of Newry, County Down.]
item mark Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), held a meeting in Dublin with John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF). The three men issued a joint statement in which they said that a settlement is possible "only with the participation and agreement of the Unionist people". The three also reaffirmed their commitment to a peaceful solution to the conflict. Martin McGuinness, then Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), went to the Maze Prison to hold a meeting with Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners. After the meeting McGuinness said that the prisoners supported the renewal of the IRA ceasefire.
item mark Following direct discussions between representatives of the Orange Order and Nationalist residents in Castlewellan, County Down, agreement was reached on a contentious parade in the village. Nationalists decided to cancel a planned protest against the parade once agreement was reached on details of the march.
item mark Brendan Smyth, previously a Catholic priest, was sentenced in a Dublin court to 12 years imprisonment for sexually abusing children. [Smyth had previously served a sentence in Northern Ireland for similar offences.]

Sunday 27 July 1997
item mark James Morgan (16), a Catholic civilian, was found dead in a field in County Down. It was believed that he had been abducted by the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF). Morgan had been missing since 24 July 1997. He had lived near Castlewellan, County Down. [He had been tortured before being killed.]
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item mark (27 or 29 July ?) James Marley (21) from west Belfast hung himself on the railings of a motorway in Belfast. He had previously suffered a paramilitary 'punishment' attack, and had both his legs broken, because of his alleged involvement in 'joyriding' in the west Belfast area. Hours before he committed suicide he had attended an anti-joyriding meeting where he had appealed for more youth facilities in the area.

Monday 28 July 1997
item mark James Coopey (26) from County Down was charged with the murder of James Morgan on 24 July 1997. [Later a second man was also charged with the killing.]

Thursday 31 July 1997
item mark A bomb, estimated at between 500 and 1,000 pounds, was left by the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) in the grounds of Carrybridge Hotel, near Lisballaw, County Fermanagh. The British Army defused the bomb.
item mark The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) announced that it would carry out a review of the electoral system in the region following numerous allegations of fraud during both the last general election and local government elections. The NIO also announced that Andy Wood, who had been chief Press Officer at the NIO for 14 years, was resigning. In the House of Commons it was revealed that David Fell, then head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, would be given £1,000,000 in a lump sum retirement settlement together with £42,188 per annum for six years.

August 1997

Friday 1 August 1997
item mark Stewart Hunter (24), a Protestant civilian, was found dead at the side of a road near his home near Larne, County Antrim. [It was believed that Loyalist paramilitaries were responsible for the killing.]

Sunday 3 August 1997
item mark Nationalist residents of Newtownbutler, County Fermanagh, protested against a Royal Black Preceptory march in the village. The parade was escorted by Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers in riot gear. Six people were injured in disturbances.
item mark The 25th anniversary of the bombing of Claudy, County Derry was marked in the village when approximately 1,500 people attended an open air service. [Although no group claimed responsibility for the explosions it was widely believed that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) had planted the three car bombs in the village which resulted in the deaths of nine people. Inadequate warnings were given about the bombs.]

Tuesday 5 August 1997
item mark A Catholic taxi driver survived an attempt to kill him when the gun being used by a Loyalist paramilitary jammed. The attack occurred in the Parkmore estate in Lurgan. [The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) later claimed responsibility for the attack.] A hoax bomb was sent to Sammy Wilson, then a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) councillor, at Belfast City Hall.
Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, held her first meeting with Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), since the Irish Republican Army (IRA) announced its renewed ceasefire.
item mark The Irish Times carried a report that John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), was considering accepting the position of President of the Republic of Ireland as an agreed all-party candidate. Hume did not comment on the story.
item mark The Bogside Residents Group (BRG) gave agreement to the planned Apprentice Boys of Derry (ABD) march in the city on 9 August 1997. This followed the news that the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) would reroute a number of ABD 'feeder' parades in other Nationalist areas of Northern Ireland.

Wednesday 6 August 1997
item mark Loyalist paramilitaries carried out a 'punishment' attack on an 18 year old man in Rathcoole, north Belfast. item mark A taxi driver was shot in the legs in a 'punishment' style attack in Grosvenor Road, Belfast. [The attack was alleged to have been carried out by the Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA).] item mark A hoax bomb was sent to the office of the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) on the Shankill Road. [It was believed that Loyalist paramilitaries were responsible.] item mark There was an arson attack on an Orange Order hall near Caledon, County Tyrone.
item mark Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, held a meeting with Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), together with other SF representatives in Stormont.

Thursday 7 August 1997
item mark Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), together with Peter Robinson, then deputy leader of the DUP, attended a meeting with Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. At the meeting the DUP presented an outline of a new talks structure. [The proposal was rejected.] Sinn Féin (SF) presented a position paper to Mowlam at a separate meeting in Stormont.

Friday 8 August 1997
item mark Nationalist residents of Newtownbutler, County Fermanagh, gathered outside the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) police station to protest at a Royal Black Preceptory march planned for the village on 9 August 1997.
item mark Ruairí O Brádaigh, then President of Republican Sinn Féin (RSF), was refused a visa by the Canadian government.

Saturday 9 August 1997
item mark The Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) planted a hoax van bomb on Craigavon Bridge in Derry, prior to the start of the Apprentice Boys' parade through the city. When the march got underway there were disturbances when Loyalist bandsmen broke ranks to attack Nationalist residents who were observing the parade. An Apprentice Boys' parade through Dunloy, County Antrim, was rerouted by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). The Royal Black Preceptory decided to cancel a parade in Newtownbutler, County Fermanagh, because of protests by the Nationalist residents of the village.

Sunday 10 August 1997
item mark The Sunday Times (a London newspaper) carried a claim by David Ervine, then a spokesperson for the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), that the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) had tried to persuade Loyalist paramilitaries from calling a ceasefire in 1994. It was also claimed that the DUP had continued to try to undermine the Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) ceasefire once it was in place. [The DUP later responded to the claims by saying that Ervine was engaging in "fantasy politics".]
item mark Sinn Féin (SF) held a rally in Belfast and called on Unionists to join them at the talks in Stormont. While the rally was in progress the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) staged a publicity stunt involving armed members posing with weapons for a cameraman in west Belfast. The INLA later released a statement that called the ceasefire by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) "bogus".

Monday 11 August 1997
item mark Two Social Security officials had shots fired at their car which was also damaged by clubs in north Belfast. There was an arson attack on the Orange Order Hall in Purdysburn in south Belfast.
Kevin Artt, Paul Brennan, and Terry Kirby, previously members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), who had escaped from the Maze Prison on 25 September 1983 lost their case in an American court to try to stop their extradition. The three men appealed against the decision.

Tuesday 12 August 1997
First Debate Between SF and UUP on TV
item mark 27 Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) prisoners in the Maze Prison began a riot which caused severe damage to C and D wings of H-Block 6. Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) prisoners in wings A and B of H-Block 6 had to be moved as the LVF occupied the roof.
item mark Ken Maginnis, then Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Member of Parliament (MP), appeared in a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Newsnight programme in a debate which involved Martin McGuinness, then Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF) and MP. This was the first time that a member of the UUP had agreed to appear alongside a member of SF on British Television.
item mark McGuinness began moves to have a judicial review of the decision of the Speaker of the House of Commons to refuse the two SF MPs office facilities. The reason given for the refusal was the fact that the two MPs had not taken their seats in the House, which would have involved an oath of allegiance to the Queen.
item mark Two Republican prisoners being held in Portlaoise Prison in the Republic of Ireland, were given early conditional release.

Thursday 14 August 1997
item mark A man (name, age?) was killed by masked men who entered his flat on the Newtownards Road, Belfast. Four serving and former members of the prison service who lived in the mid-Ulster area had their homes attacked. [The attacks were believed to have been carried out by the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF).]
item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), Martin McGuinness, then Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), and a SF Teachta Dála (TD; member of Irish Parliament) were granted visas to visit the United States of America (USA) and to raise funds for SF.

Saturday 16 August 1997
item mark An Irish Republican Army (IRA) 'bomb factory' was discovered by Garda Síochána (the Irish police) at a farmhouse in Crosskeys, near Cavan. The factory was not believed to have been operational for some weeks.

Monday 18 August 1997
item mark In the Student Union building in Queen's University of Belfast, signs which were in English and Irish were removed. This was in response to a report which claimed that the Irish language alienated Protestant students by causing a "chill factor". [The Student Union had a policy of promoting bilingualism.]
item mark 13 Republican prisoners serving sentences in Britain had their security status reduced allowing them to be moved from Special Secure Units to main prison accommodation.

Wednesday 20 August 1997
item mark Up to 30 men who claimed to be members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) badly damaged a public house, The Golden Hind, in Portadown, County Armagh. The pub was allegedly a frequent meeting place for members of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF).

Thursday 21 August 1997
item mark Brendan Smyth, a former Catholic priest, who was serving a prison sentence in the Republic of Ireland for sexually abusing children, died of a heart attack aged 70.

Tuesday 26 August 1997
item mark Agreement on Decommissioning Body
The British and Irish governments jointly signed an agreement to set up an Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD). Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, held a meeting with Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), where concerns were expressed at the state of the Loyalist ceasefire.
U2, the Dublin pop group, held a concert at Botanic Gardens in Belfast before an estimated 40,000 people.

Wednesday 27 August 1997
item mark There was a gun attack on the house belonging to Kenny McClinton who had formerly served life sentences for killings carried out while a member of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). The attack was believed to have been carried out by Loyalist paramilitaries. McClinton had recently mediated on behalf of Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) prisoners in the Maze Prison. [Following the attack McClinton moved his family from Belfast to Portadown, County Armagh, which is a town with strong LVF connections.]
item mark Billy Hutchinson, then a spokesperson for the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), gave an interview on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Radio Ulster programme Talkback in which he said that the talks process was offering nothing to Loyalists. He said that he would be recommending that the PUP ended its participation in the talks. He also said that the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) could "wipe out" the LVF in a week.
item mark Relatives of the 33 people killed in bombings in Dublin and Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland on 17 May 1974 failed in their court attempt to get the Garda Síochána (the Irish police) to release the files on their investigations of the bombings.

Thursday 28 August 1997
item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and Jeffrey Donaldson, then a UUP Member of Parliament (MP), held a "hostile meeting" with Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. The Unionist MPs were angry at comments made by Mowlam that the issue of 'consent' should not be "narrowly defined" in numerical terms. [She later stated that the status of Northern Ireland could only be changed by a majority of the population.]

Friday 29 August 1997
item mark Announcement that SF Could Enter Talks
Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said that she "accepted the veracity" of the renewed Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire and would therefore be inviting Sinn Féin (SF) to attend the multi-party talks at Stormont, Belfast, on 15 September 1997. The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) said that it would attend the talks but would not sit at the same table as SF. Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, and Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), issued a joint appeal to all Unionists to joint the multi-party talks on 15 September 1997.

Saturday 30 August 1997
item mark The New Barnsley Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) police station in west Belfast was attacked by a crowd of people who threw petrol bombs and set a lookout post on fire. The RUC responded by firing plastic baton rounds.
item mark The Royal Black Preceptory cancelled or rerouted planned parades in Strabane and Pomeroy, County Tyrone, and Bellaghy, County Derry.

Sunday 31 August 1997
item mark Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, gave an interview which was published by the Sunday Times. In it he indicated that what was likely to come out of the talks process was a devolved assembly for Northern Ireland together with co-operation between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. He also said that there would be a referendum on any future agreement.
Garry McMichael, then spokesperson for the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), said that he would recommend that the UDP leave the multi-party talks if Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, did not give a "satisfactory definition of consent". William Ross and William Thompson, then both Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Members of Parliament (MPs), called on their party leader to withdraw from any further involvement in the "squalid" Stormont talks process.

September 1997

Monday 1 September 1997
item mark Relatives of three men that were shot dead on 13 January 1990 by undercover soldiers walked out of an inquest in Belfast in protest at the "restricted scope" of the inquiry. [The three men, Edward Hale (25), John McNeill (43), and Peter Thompson (23), all Catholic civilians, were shot dead during an attempted robbery at Sean Graham's bookmaker's shop at the junction of Whiterock Road and Falls Road, Belfast.]
item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), held a meeting in Armagh with leaders of the Catholic Church. The meeting was part of a consultation process that the UUP engaged in to determine whether or not to take part in the Stormont talks. Trimble said later that the UUP would not meet Sinn Féin (SF) face-to-face.
item mark It was announced that the new head of the Civil Service in Northern Ireland would be John Semple.

Wednesday 3 September 1997
item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), paid his first visit to the United States of America (USA) since February 1996. [During his five day trip he held a meeting with Sandy Berger, then National Security Advisor to the White House.]

Thursday 4 September 1997
item mark Over 600 guests paid $500 a plate at a fund-raising dinner on behalf of Sinn Féin (SF) in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. The main speaker was Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF).

Monday 8 September 1997
item mark Mary Robinson, then President of the Republic of Ireland, paid her final visit before retiring to Northern Ireland. Robinson attended a meeting of the Council for Ethnic Minorities and also addressed a special meeting of community and voluntary sector groups at Balmoral, Belfast. [Previous visits by the President had been criticised by Unionist politicians particularly when she shook hands with Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), in 1993.] John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), announced that he would not be standing in the forthcoming Presidential election in the Republic of Ireland. Hume said that he felt a duty to stay with the SDLP at the "crucial stage" of the peace process.

Tuesday 9 September 1997
Sinn Féin Signed Mitchell Principles
item mark Petrol bombs were thrown at the homes of two Catholic families in the Protestant Ballykeel estate in Ballymena, County Antrim. [One of the families, who had been living on the estate for 33 years, decided to leave their home following the attack.]
item mark Representatives of Sinn Féin (SF) entered Stormont, Belfast, to sign a pledge that the party would agreed to abide by the Mitchell Principles. [See 11 September 1997 for the reaction of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).] The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), and the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) all refused to attend the session at Stormont. The PUP and the UDP held meetings with Adam Ingram, then Security Minister, to discuss the situation of Loyalist prisoners. A number of UDP supporters took part in a protest outside the gates of Stormont.
item mark Madeline Albright, then Secretary of State of the United States of America (USA), asked the Attorney General to suspend the extradition to Britain of six men who were former members of the IRA.

Wednesday 10 September 1997
item mark Mary McAleese, then a Pro-Vice Chancellor at Queen's University of Belfast, announced that she would enter the contest to become the Fianna Fáil (FF) nomination for President of Ireland. [McAleese was successful and went on to win the Presidential election.]

Thursday 11 September 1997
item mark An Phoblacht published an interview with an Irish Republican Army (IRA) spokesperson who said that "the IRA would have problems with sections of the Mitchell Principles". However, the person said that what Sinn Féin (SF) decided to do "was a matter for them". [SF signed up to the Mitchell Principles on 9 September 1997.]
item mark In a referendum in Scotland the electorate voted for a devolved parliament with tax-raising powers. [The Labour Party policy of conceding devolution was considered by many commentators as an attempt to undermine growing demands for independence for Scotland. Some people believe that independence in Scotland would have implications on the constitutional position of Northern Ireland.]

Friday 12 September 1997
item mark Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, issued a statement calling on David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), to remain in the multi-party talks at Stormont.
item mark Mary Robinson formally resigned as President of the Republic of Ireland. She took up a new position as High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations.

Saturday 13 September 1997
item mark The Executive Council of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) held a meeting to decide its position on entering the resumed multi-party talks on 15 September 1997. However the meeting did not arrive at a decision and the matter was postponed to a further meeting on the morning of 15 September 1997.
item mark Loyalists held a parade on the Shankill Road with 70 bands taking part. Four members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) appeared during the parade and posed with weapons before slipping away into the crowd.

Sunday 14 September 1997
item mark An Orange Order parade planned for the Nationalist village of Dunloy, County Antrim, was rerouted by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). The Loyalists responsible for a picket outside the Catholic church at Harryville in Ballymena, County Antrim, said that because Orangemen were unable to parade at Dunloy the picket would resume. Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), addressed a rally at Belfast City Hall in support of Saoirse.

Monday 15 September 1997
Multi-Party Talks Resumed
item mark While Sinn Féin (SF) entered Stormont, Belfast, to take part in the multi-party talks, the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), and the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) did not turn up for the for first plenary session. Instead the three Unionist parties attended a special meeting at the UUP headquarters in Glengall Street, Belfast. [The three parties rejoined the talks on 17 September 1997.] item mark In addition to SF, the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI), Labour (Lab), the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and the Northern Ireland Women's Coalition (NIWC) all attended the talks. item mark The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP) had walked out of Stormont on 21 July 1997 in protest at the decision to allow SF to enter Castle Buildings at Stormont. Paul Murphy, then Political Development Minister, held a meeting with UUP leaders.

Tuesday 16 September 1997
item mark A bomb estimated at 400 pounds exploded in Markethill, County Armagh, and caused extensive damage to buildings. [The Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) later claimed responsibility for the bombing.]
item mark Ivan Kilpatrick, who had taken part in pickets at Harryville Catholic church, was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment for disorderly behaviour during one of the pickets. Six other men were also received shorter sentences in connection with the picket.

Wednesday 17 September 1997
item mark The talks delegation of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) entered Stormont, Belfast, flanked by the delegations of the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), and the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP). The three parties said that they would not directly engage with Sinn Féin (SF) but would attend plenary sessions.
item mark Mary McAleese, then a Pro-Vice Chancellor at Queen's University of Belfast, secured the Fianna Fáil (FF) nomination for the election for President of the Republic of Ireland. McAleese beat Albert Reynolds, formerly Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), by 62 votes to 48. [McAleese went on to win the Presidential election.]

Thursday 18 September 1997
item mark The Irish News carried a story that on Friday 12 September 1997 four unarmed members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) stopped a member of the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) and took a gun off him. The incident happened in the Ardoyne area of Belfast. [The story was later confirmed as true by Ruairí O Brádaigh, then President of Republican Sinn Féin (RSF).]
item mark During a referendum in Wales the electorate voted by a narrow majority for a Welsh Assembly. [This followed the vote for a Scottish Parliament held on 11 September 1997.]

Saturday 20 September 1997
Harryville Picket Resumed
item mark Approximately 170 Loyalists recommenced their picket of the Catholic church in Harryville, Ballymena, County Antrim. [The picket had ended during the summer when the Catholic priest at Harryville decided, following police advice, not to celebrate mass during the height of the Orange Order marching season. Picketing had first begun 41 weeks earlier in October 1996 (?).]

Sunday 21 September 1997
item mark [Frank Steele, formerly a member of MI6, claimed that various British governments had been in contact with the Irish Republican Army (IRA) since the first contact was established on 7 July 1972.]

Tuesday 23 September 1997
item mark The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) sat in the same room as Sinn Féin (SF) during a plenary session of the multi-party talks at Stormont, Belfast. The UUP proposed a motion to have SF removed following an indication by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) on 11 September 1997 that it had some difficulties with aspects of the Mitchell Principles, however the motion was defeated. William Thompson, then a UUP Member of Parliament (MP), threatened to resign because of David Trimble's, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), decision to enter the talks at Stormont.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) screened a programme called Provos: Born Again which alleged that Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), had been a senior member of the IRA.

Wednesday 24 September 1997
Procedures Agreed at Multi-party Talks
item mark A bomb was sent by post to the constituency office of Robert McCartney, then leader of the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP). The bomb was defused by the British Army. [This was the second bomb that had been sent to McCartney in two months.]
item mark At the multi-party talks there was agreement over the procedures that would govern the conduct of the negotiations. This agreement on procedures took 16 months to achieve. [In effect the issue of the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons was side-stepped with the parties agreeing to move to "substantive issues" on 29 September 1997. This was the first time in 70 years that Unionist parties had sat at the same talks table as Republicans.] The Independent Commission on Decommissioning was formally launched. The Commission members were: John de Chastelain, who was a co-chair of the multi-party talks and a General in the Canadian Army, Tauno Nieminen, then a Brigadier in the Finnish Army, and Donal Johnson, then a United States of America (USA) diplomat.

Friday 26 September 1997
item mark Following a request by the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, approved the transfer of Jason Campbell from a Scottish prison to the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland. The decision drew criticism from Unionists and Nationalists. [Campbell was serving a sentence for the murder of a Celtic football supporter in Glasgow in October 1995. The killing was purely sectarian in nature and the man had been attacked because he was wearing the colours of the Celtic team. Later it was revealed that Campbell had no close family connections in Northern Ireland. The PUP later withdrew its request for Campbell's transfer.]
item mark Mowlam held a meeting with Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), but failed in her effort to persuade Paisley to join the multi-party talks.
item mark A memorial to the 33 people who were killed in the Dublin and Monaghan bombs in the Republic of Ireland on 17 May 1974 was unveiled in Talbot Street in Dublin.
item mark Five Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners who were serving sentences in Portlaoise Prison in the Republic of Ireland were granted early release.

Saturday 27 September 1997
item mark Following an increase in sectarian tensions in the Oldpark area of north Belfast, the homes of two Protestant families were attacked. [There were attacks on Catholic homes on 28 September 1997.] item mark Loyalists took part in a picket of the Catholic church at Harryville, Ballymena.

Sunday 28 September 1997
item mark Loyalist who were taking part in the weekly picket of the Catholic church at Harryville, Ballymena, said that they would extend the protest to include Catholic chapels at Ballycastle, Dervcock, and Lisburn. They said that they would continue their protest until the Orange Order was allowed to parade in the Catholic village of Dunloy, County Antrim.
item mark In continuing sectarian tension in the Oldpark area of north Belfast, the homes of three Catholic families were attacked with petrol bombs. There were no serious injuries in the attacks.

Monday 29 September 1997
item mark Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and Robert McCartney, then leader of the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP), addressed a rally in the Ulster Hall, Belfast, which was in protest at the multi-party talks at Stormont. Approximately 1,000 people attended the rally called "Ulster's Crisis - Where Now?". David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), later attacked the "relentless negativity of a minority of Unionists".

Tuesday 30 September 1997
Format of Negotiations Agreed at Talks
item mark The parties involved in the talks at Stormont agreed the format for the substantive negotiations. The talks would take place in three strands. The first strand would deal with arrangements for government in Northern Ireland, the second would look at relationships between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and the third would look at the relationships between Britain and Ireland. The substantive talks were due to begin on 7 October 1997. Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, addressed the Labour Party's annual conference and announced that internment would be removed form the statute books. William Hague, then leader of the Conservative Party, paid his first official visit to Northern Ireland but did not meet any political leaders.

October 1997

Sunday 5 October 1997
item mark Martin McGuinness, then Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), addressed a SF rally in Coalisland, County Tyrone, and told those present that SF were involved in the multi-party talks in order to "smash the union".

Tuesday 7 October 1997
Substantive Talks Began at Stormont
item mark A bomb was sent by mail to the office of Jeffrey Donaldson, then Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Member of Parliament (MP) . Donaldson was in America at the time and the device was defused by the British Army.
item mark Those parties taking part in the talks returned to Stormont to being discussing substantive issues. However, David Trimble, then leader of the UUP, was not present as he was still on a two-day visit to the United States of America (USA). During the visit Trimble had a meeting with Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America. The talks in Belfast were also overshadowed by the resignation of Ray Burke, then Irish Foreign Minister.
item mark Alan Clark, formerly a British Defence Minister, spoke at a fringe meeting of the Conservative Party conference and said that "the only solution for dealing with the IRA [Irish Republican Army] is kill 600 people in one night". [Clark later said that he was only joking.]

Wednesday 8 October 1997
item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), met Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, at Chequers in England.
item mark The Apprentice Boys of Derry (ABD) suspended a Loyalist band, the Cloughfern Young Conquerors' Band, from taking part in further ABD marches. The disciplinary action followed disturbances caused by the band at a parade in Derry on 9 August 1997.
item mark David Andrews, then a Fianna Fáil (FF) Teachta Dála (TD; member of Irish Parliament), was appointed as the new Irish Foreign Minister.
item mark The United States of America (USA) State Department decided to drop the Irish Republican Army (IRA) from its list of 'terrorist' organisations. One affect of this decision was to allow funds to be raised on behalf of the IRA. Unionists were critical of the decision.

Thursday 9 October 1997
item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), spoke at a fringe meeting of the Conservative and said that he had "no expectation of an agreement between Unionists of any shape and Sinn Féin". The meeting was organised by the group 'Friends of the Union'. Andrew McKay, then Conservative spokesperson on Northern Ireland, also spoke at the meeting and said that if the Labour Party did not follow the policies established by John Major it might mean an end to the bipartisan approach to the region in the House of Commons.

Friday 10 October 1997
item mark The Scottish Office blocked the transfer of Jason Campbell from a Scottish prison to the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland. [Campbell was serving a sentence for the murder of a Celtic football supporter in Glasgow in October 1995. The Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) had originally requested the transfer but later withdrew its request following widespread criticism.]

Sunday 12 October 1997
item mark Loyalists demonstrated against a parade held in Rosslea, County Fermanagh, to commemorate the United Irishmen rising in 1798. During the demonstration Loyalists clashed with Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers.
item mark Loyalists held a rally at Belfast City Hall to mark the third anniversary of the Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) ceasefire. Among those taking part was a 'colour party' of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF). [Nationalists later criticised the display on behalf of the UFF.] Garry McMichael, then spokesperson for the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), paid tribute to the "resilience and fortitude" of Loyalist prisoners.
item mark David Andrews, then Irish Foreign Minister, said on Radio Telefis Éireann (RTE) that a United Ireland "is not achievable in my lifetime". His comments drew criticism from Sinn Féin (SF). The Sunday Post (a Republic of Ireland newspaper) published a leaked memo that alleged that Mary McAleese, then Fianna Fáil (FF) candidate for President of the Republic of Ireland, had political sympathies towards SF. The memo came from an unnamed civil servant in the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Monday 13 October 1997
item mark Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, paid a visit to Northern Ireland. At Castle Buildings in Stormont, Belfast, Blair held meetings with representatives of all the political parties including a delegation from Sinn Féin (SF) led by Gerry Adams, then President of SF. [Away from cameras Blair had shook the hand of Adams and other members of SF.] At the Conswater shopping centre in Belfast a group of 60 Loyalists heckled the Prime Minister who had to rushed out of the centre by security staff. Blair also met with John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), in Derry and David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), in Craigavon.

Thursday 16 October 1997
item mark A bomb was delivered by post to the constituency office of David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). The device was defused by the British Army. [A group called the Revolutionary Republican Strike Force (RRSF) later claimed responsibility for the bomb and a number of previous similar devices.]
item mark Peter Robinson, then Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Member of Parliament (MP), and Robert McCartney, then leader of the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP), addressed a public meeting in Carryduff, east Belfast. A number of Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) members were present and they heckled the speakers.

Friday 17 October 1997
Parades Commission Announced
item mark Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, gave a speech at the Jordanstown campus of the University of Ulster during which she outlined the remit of the Parades Commission. Despite early speculation it was announced that the new commission would not cover other expressions of cultural identity such as Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) sporting activities. Resident groups and the Loyal Orders criticised various aspects of the Parades Commission in particular the membership of the commission and its powers. David Ervine, then a spokesperson for the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), and Garry McMichael, then spokesperson for the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), began a speaking tour of the United States of America (USA).

Sunday 19 October 1997
item mark A number of newspapers in the Republic of Ireland carried further leaked memos from an unknown civil servant in the Department of Foreign Affairs about Mary McAleese, then Fianna Fáil (FF) candidate for President of the Republic of Ireland. The Irish government announced that there would be a Garda Síochána (the Irish police) investigation into the leaks.

Monday 20 October 1997
item mark There were disturbances during an inquest at the Coroners Court in Derry into the killing on 12 November 1990 of Alex Patterson (31), then a member of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), by members of an undercover British Army unit. [It was believed that the soldiers responsible were members of the Special Air Service (SAS).] The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) were called to clear the court and the police used their batons during scuffles.
The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) walked out of the talks at Stormont, Belfast, in protest at the refusal of the Irish government to change Articles Two and Three of the Irish Constitution.

Saturday 25 October 1997
item mark Glen Greer (28), a Protestant man, died in a car-bomb attack in Bangor, County Down. His killing was thought to have been part of a Loyalist feud. Greer was a father of three children and his partner was expecting a fourth child. [The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) blamed the breakdown in the Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) ceasefire for this bombing and other violence between the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF).]
death button
item mark The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) held their annual conference in Newcastle, County Down. There was some criticism of the fact that the UUP was participating in the multi-party talks. David Trimble, then leader of the UUP, said that the party would not accept "any Trojan horse that would be a vehicle that will trundle us into a United Ireland".

Sunday 26 October 1997
item mark A Protestant parish hall in Millfield, Belfast, was damaged in an arson attack. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) rerouted a planned parade by Ballynafeign Orange Lodge through the Nationalist lower Ormeau Road area of Belfast.

Monday 27 October 1997
item mark The Parades Commissions published three booklets which were intended to act as a guide to the issue in Northern Ireland: Procedural Rules, Guidelines, and Code of Conduct. Alistair Graham, then Chairman of the Parades Commission, announced that details of decisions taken by the Commission on contentious parades would be made public five days in advance. [The various Loyal Orders all criticised the powers of the Commission and said that they would have nothing to do with it.]
item mark Roy Magee, who had helped broker the Loyalist ceasefire in 1994, offered to mediate in the feud between the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF).
item mark The News Letter, a Northern Ireland paper with a mainly unionist readership, published the results of a telephone poll on the multi-party talks at Stormont. Of the 13,000 readers who took part 47 per cent said that Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), had adopted the right strategy whereas only 24 per cent supported David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). [The UUP criticised the unscientific nature of the poll.]

Wednesday 29 October 1997
item mark John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), travelled to London for a meeting at Downing Street with Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister. Hume said afterwards that he had a "frank discussion" on the multi-party talks.
item mark Four employees of the Coats Viyella shirt factory in Derry wore Armistice Day poppies to work in advance of the agreed dates for the display of the emblems. They refused to remove the poppies and were sent home. [Gregory Campbell, then a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) councillor, criticised the company. The workers were reinstated when the agreed date was reached.]
Davy Tweed, then a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) councillor, was fined at Coleraine magistrates court for assaulting a man in a pub in Ballymoney, County Antrim.
item mark A Labour Force Survey in the Republic of Ireland showed that the work force stood at 1.3 million which was the highest level in the history of the state.

Thursday 30 October 1997
item mark The Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) said that it was responsible for the attempted bombing of government offices in Derry.
item mark The United Nations (UN) called for an judicial inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane, at the time a solicitor based in Belfast, on 12 February 1989. Finucane had represented a number of Republicans in high profile cases. The Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a covername used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), claimed responsibility for the killing. Republicans alleged that the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) had colluded with the UFF in targeting Finucane. The UN also criticised the Law Society for not defending lawyers from threats and harassment from members of the security forces.
item mark Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, gave an interview which was published by New Statesman in which she accused civil servants in the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) of undermining the peace process by engaging in a series of leaks to the media and political parties. Jack Straw, then British Home Secretary, announced in the House of Commons that the final 12 exclusion orders would be revoked. He also announced that new 'anti-terrorist legislation' would be introduced on a United Kingdom (UK) wide basis. The Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ), based in Belfast, called on the government to repeal all emergency legislation.
There was an election in the Republic of Ireland to elect a new President. [When the counting was completed Mary McAleese was elected as the eight President of Ireland.]

November 1997

Wednesday 5 November 1997
item mark There was a gun attack on the headquarters of Sinn Féin (SF) on Andersontown Road, Belfast. No one was hurt during the attack. [It was later claimed that Brendan Campbell, an alleged drug dealer had carried out the attack. Campbell was killed by Direct Action Against Drugs (DAAD), which is considered to be a covername used by the Irish Republican Army (IRA), on 10 February 1998.]
item mark Dick Spring, formerly the Tánaiste (deputy Irish Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs), resigned as leader of the Irish Labour Party. [Spring had proved a successful leader of the Labour Party and was a key figure in recent initiatives in Northern Ireland. It was believed that one reason for his decision to resign was the poor result achieved by the Labour candidate in the Presidential election on 30 October 1997. Ruairi Quinn was elected as the new leader of the party on 13 November 1997.]

Thursday 6 November 1997
Split in Sinn Féin
item mark In Dundalk in the Republic of Ireland around 12 members of Sinn Féin (SF) resigned from the party in protest at SF's acceptance of the Mitchell Principles. [There were also media reports that a number of members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) had left the paramilitary group. A number of commentators considered this to be the most significant split in Republican ranks since 2 November 1986.]

Friday 7 November 1997
item mark Adam Ingram, then Security Minister, gave details of 'punishment' attacks since 20 July 1997 during a House of Commons answer. He revealed that there had been 44 attacks during the period with 17 attributed to Republicans and 27 to Loyalists. [During the first six months of the year there had bee 129 'punishment' attacks.] The Garda Síochána (the Irish police) uncovered 20 kilograms of Semtex explosive at Swords, County Dublin, Republic of Ireland, and arrested two men. This was believed to be an Irish Republican Army (IRA) arms cache. The British Home Office announce that it was transferring three Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners from prisons in Britain to the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland. The men, Patrick Hayes, Denis Kinsella, and Vincent Wood, received prison sentences of 30, 25, and 17 years respectively, for conspiracy to cause explosions and possession of explosives.
item mark Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, was heckled by Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) members as she addressed a plenary session of the Northern Ireland Forum.

Saturday 8 November 1997
item mark Robert Kerr (54), formerly a Loyalist paramilitary member, was found dead near Newry, County Down. (??)
item mark Republican Sinn Féin (RSF) held its annual conference in Dublin. During the speeches Sinn Féin (SF) was criticised for agreeing to take part in the multi-party talks at Stormont.

Sunday 9 November 1997
Raymond McCord Killing
item mark The body of Raymond McCord (22), a Protestant civilian, was discovered at Ballyduff quarry, near Belfast. Loyalist paramilitaries were responsible for the killing. [Raymond McCord (senior) led a high profile campaign to uncover the circumstances of his son's killing. The matter was investigated by the Police Ombudsman who issued a statement and report on 22 January 2007.]
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item mark Nationalist residents of Bellaghy decided to call off a planned protest at the British Legion Remembrance Sunday parade. The residents had objected to the band, Bruce's True Blues, which was scheduled to lead the parade.
item mark During a radio interview on the tenth anniversary of the Enniskillen bomb which killed 11 people on 8 November 1987, Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), said he was "deeply sorry about what happened".

Wednesday 12 November 1997
item mark The Irish Times carried a report claiming that 35 members of the "1st Battalion, South Armagh Brigade" of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) had left the paramilitary group in protest at Sinn Féin's (SF) peace strategy. It was also claimed that those who had left were prepared to join others who had left in October 1997.
item mark Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), told the Northern Ireland Select Committee that eight per cent of the 8,500 members of the RUC were Catholic.
item mark John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), raised concerns about the continuing high levels of security in west Belfast and south Armagh.

Thursday 13 November 1997
item mark During a visit to Washington, United States of America (USA), Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said that she would try to meet the deadline set for the multi-party talks at Stormont. She also "vowed" to help establish a new inquiry into the events of 'Bloody Sunday' in Derry on 30 January 1972.
item mark Representatives of Families Against Intimidation and Terror (FAIT) held a meeting in the Maze Prison with Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) prisoners.
Ruairi Quinn was elected as the new leader of the Irish Labour Party. [Quinn won the election during a secret ballot by 37 votes to 27. During a press conference Quinn said that the Labour Party should not rule out a coalition with either Fianna Fáil (FF) or Fine Gael (FG) following the next general election.]

Friday 14 November 1997
item mark Jonathon Stephenson, then chairperson of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), addressed the opening session of the party's annual conference and called for a "historic compromise" with Unionism. David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), called for the replacement of the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA) before progress on the multi-party talks.

Saturday 15 November 1997
item mark Sinn Féin (SF) held a meeting in Cullyhanna, south Armagh. Francie Molloy, then a member of SF's talks team, told the meeting that if the Stormont negotiations were to collapse then "we simply go back to what we know best". [Many people took this to be a reference to the Irish Republican Army (IRA) ending its ceasefire and the comments sparked controversy.] John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), addressed the party's annual conference and said that "equality of allegiance" was the key to political progress. He said that he wanted agreement with Unionists and "their allegiance as well as ours" was required for a solution to the problems of Northern Ireland.

Sunday 16 November 1997
item mark Colin Duffy, then a prominent Republican based in Lurgan, was charged with assault following a fracas involving Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers in the town. [There were riots in Lurgan and Armagh on 18 November 1997 following his arrest.]

Monday 17 November 1997
item mark The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) claimed that it had left four bombs in Dundalk, Republic of Ireland. The Garda Síochána (the Irish police) removed some "suspicious devices" for examination.
Lee Clegg, then a member of the Parachute Regiment, began his third appeal at the High Court in Belfast against his sentence for the murder of Karen Reilly (16) on 30 September 1990. [Clegg had been released from prison in 1995 having served two years of a life sentence for the murder and had been accepted back into the British Army.]

Tuesday 18 November 1997
item mark There were riots in Lurgan and Armagh following the arrest of Colin Duffy, then a prominent Republican based in Lurgan. [Duffy had been charged with assault following a fracas involving Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers in the town.]
item mark Adam Ingram, then Security Minister, defended changes made to the Northern Ireland Emergency Provisions Bill particularly the removal of the powers to use internment. [Unionists criticised the government for removing internment from the statute books.] David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), held a meeting with Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, to emphasise the UUP's opposition to cross-border bodies which have executive powers.

Thursday 20 November 1997
item mark The Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) left a small bomb behind Belfast City Hall. The Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) claimed that the device was aimed at their ground floor office.
David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), headed a five person delegation which held a meeting with Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), in London. The meeting was described as positive by both sides.

Sunday 23 November 1997
item mark An 18 year old man was injured in a 'punishment' shooting in Donegall Street, Belfast. [The Irish Republican Army (IRA) were thought to be responsible for the attack.]
item mark Sinn Féin (SF) held a rally in the Europa Hotel, Belfast. Addressing the rally Gerry Adams, then President of SF called for party unity. There was some criticism of the party's policy on the peace process from those attending the rally.

Monday 24 November 1997
item mark Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, gave a press conference in Stormont, Belfast, and told journalists that she would like to see "more direct communication between Sinn Féin [SF] and the UUP" [Ulster Unionist Party]. Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), went to Downing Street, London, for a meeting with Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister. Paisley criticised Blair for making concessions to SF and said that the peace process and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire were both "a sham".

Tuesday 25 November 1997
item mark There were riots in Loyalist areas of north and west Belfast which were believed to have been sparked by the arrest of a leading Loyalist figure from the Shankill area.
item mark The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) announced that the British Army would end its daytime patrolling of west Belfast. [The move was welcomed by Nationalists but criticised by Unionists.] The International Commission on Decommissioning issued an initial report stating that it had "detailed estimates" of the arms held by various paramilitary organisations. Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, issued a set of proposals for the future planning of police requirements. These included proposals for a community police service "which does not have to respond to a terrorist threat".
item mark Seán Brady, then Catholic Primate of Ireland, held a meeting with the South Armagh Residents and Farmers Association which were campaigning for a reduction in the level of security activity in the area.

Thursday 27 November 1997
item mark Jack Mahood was shot and injured in his taxi depot in north Belfast. [The attack was blamed on the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). Mahood had been a member of the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) negotiation team who resigned over differences on matters of policy.]

Friday 27 November 1997
item mark The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) published a list of the main initiatives introduced since the IRA ceasefire of 20 July 1997 to reduce the impact of security measures.

Saturday 29 November 1997
item mark The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) held its annual conference in Portrush, County Antrim. Addressing the conference Ian Paisley, then leader of the DUP, said that David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), was guilty of "high treason". Paisley also accused George Mitchell, then Chairman of the Stormont talks, of "working for the total destruction of Northern Ireland".
item mark The Friends of the Union held a meeting organised by Lord Cranborne, then Conservative leader in the House of Lords, at Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, England. David Trimble, then leader of the UUP, Ian Paisley, then leader of the DUP, and Robert McCartney, then leader of the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP), all attended the meeting. The Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) and the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) were not invited. Sean O'Callaghan, a former Irish Republican Army (IRA) informer, also spoke at the meeting. David Andrews, then Irish Foreign Affairs Minister, gave an interview to Radio Ulster during which he said that cross-border bodies should have powers "not unlike a government". [Unionists criticised Andrews for the remarks which he later said were "misjudged".]

December 1997

Monday 1 December 1997
item mark Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced that in future recruits to the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) would not have to swear service to Queen Elizabeth.
item mark The Northern Ireland Police Authority (NIPA) held its first public meeting at Spires conference centre in Belfast. The meeting was disrupted by members of Saoirse, the group representing Republican Prisoners. The protesters were removed and the meeting continued.
item mark Unionists demanded an inquiry into the events surrounding the 1970 arms trial in Dublin. [The trial began on 28 May 1970 into a plot to smuggle guns from the Republic of Ireland to the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Northern Ireland. This demand for an inquiry was seen as an attempt to obtain a quid pro quo for any new inquiry into events on 'Bloody Sunday' on 30 January 1972.]
item mark David Andrews, then Irish Foreign Affairs Minister, admitted that his comments about the nature of powers for any future cross-border bodies on 29 November 1997 were "misjudged". This comment followed a meeting between Andrews and members of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) which was described as "difficult".

Tuesday 2 December 1997
item mark The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) announced that all day-time foot patrols by the British Army were to be withdrawn from all parts of Belfast.
item mark George Mitchell, then Chairman of the multi-party talks, said that the negotiations were getting down to "brass tacks". His comment followed the introduction a system whereby each of the parties would be represented by two delegates, instead of the pervious five, at future discussions. Hugh Smyth, a Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) councillor, said that Sinn Féin (SF) should be given a share of posts on Belfast City Council.

Wednesday 3 December 1997
item mark Sinn Féin (SF) produced a dossier outlining their case that the party was being discriminated against in the allocation of committee chairs at Belfast City Council. [SF was the joint largest party in the council along with the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) both of whom had 13 councillors. However, whereas Unionists parties including the Alliance Party had 93 per cent of the committee chairs and 87 per cent of vice-chairs, SF had no positions.]

Thursday 4 December 1997
item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), and Martin McGuinness, then Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), held a meeting with the Speaker of the House of Commons. The Speaker refused their request for office facilities because they had not taken their seats as this would have involved taking the Oath of allegiance to the Queen.
item mark Pearse McCauley (32) was charged in a court in Dublin with the capital murder of Gerry McCabe, then a Detective in the Garda Síochána (the Irish police), in Adare on 7 June 1996.

Friday 5 December 1997
item mark Gerry Devlin (36), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by Loyalist paramilitaries as he entered the car park of St Enda's Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) club in Glengormley, County Antrim. Devlin was a GAA official and he was on his way to pick up his brother at the time of his killing. [The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) was blamed by many commentators for the killing but a number of others believed that the LVF was aided by other Loyalist paramilitary groups.]
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item mark Mary McAleese, then President of the Republic of Ireland, paid her first official visit to Northern Ireland. During a visit to her former school on the Falls Road she met and shook hands with Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF). She also visited Newry and the Ardoyne area of Belfast. The Forum for Peace and Reconciliation held a meeting in Dublin. [This was the first meeting of the Forum since the Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb at Canary Wharf on 9 February 1996.]

Saturday 6 December 1997
item mark The United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP) held its first annual conference in Bangor, County Down.
item mark The Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) held its annual conference in Dublin. The party rejected by 109 votes to 11 a motion from the Ard Chomhairle (executive) which called on the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) to engage in a ceasefire until the end of the multi-party talks at Stormont.

Sunday 7 December 1997
item mark At Dunloy, County Antrim, a 'suspect device' was found near the Orange Order Hall on the outskirts of the village. The device was made safe. Members of the Apprentice Boys of Derry (ABD) held a religious service at the Orange Hall but did not attempt to march through the village.
Mary McAleese, then President of the Republic of Ireland, broke new ecumenical ground when she took communion at a Church of Ireland service in Christ Church, Dublin. [The decision caused a debate in the Catholic church with a number of senior figures criticising the President over the coming days and weeks.]

Monday 8 December 1997
item mark Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), made a visit to Northern Ireland. In west Belfast Ahern was greeted by Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF). Ahern also visited Belfast City Hall where he was greeted by the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) mayor, Alban Maginness. This was the first visit by a Taoiseach to Belfast City Hall. The Taoiseach also made his first visit to the multi-party talks at Stormont and seemed to have healed a recent rift with the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). [The problem arose following comments made by David Andrews, then Irish Foreign Affairs Minister, about the powers of any future cross-border bodies.]
In Dublin a group of Republicans launched a new organisation called the 32 County Sovereignty Committee. One of the most prominent members was Bernadette Sands McKevitt, a sister of Bobby Sands who died on hunger strike on 5 May 1981. The new Committee opposed the stance of Gerry Adams on the peace process. [Later a number of commentators were to associate the Committee with dissident Irish Republican Army (IRA) members who formed the 'real' IRA.

Wednesday 10 December 1997
item mark Liam Averill, then an Irish Republican Army (IRA) life-sentence prisoner, escaped from the Maze Prison. Averill managed to escape from the highest security prison in the United Kingdom (UK) by dressing up as a woman during a Christmas party for prisoners' families and getting onto the coach taking the families out of the prison.
item mark The Independent (a London newspaper) published a leaked internal Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) document which claimed to show that one in three of the Catholic officers of the RUC had suffered discrimination or harassment from Protestant officers. [At this time Catholics made up 8 per cent of the total number of officers in the RUC.]
item mark Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), rejected criticism that he or his party were "equivocal" about, or sympathetic towards, the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF). Paisley had been criticised by an article in the Irish News, and by the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI), the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), and the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP). The Orange Order was forced to move the location of a meeting to re-elect Robert Salters as Grand Master of the Orange Order because of protest action. The protest was carried out by the Spirit of Drumcree (SOD) whose leader, Joel Patton, criticised the leadership of the Order and also the "undemocratic" means to elect the senior posts.

Thursday 11 December 1997
Sinn Féin Delegation at Downing Street
item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), led a SF delegation into 10 Downing Street, London to meet Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, and other members of the British government. These were the first talks between a British Prime Minister and leaders of SF at Downing Street for 76 years. The meeting lasted one hour and afterwards Adams said that it was a "good moment in history". The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) criticised the meeting and rejected calls for a direct meeting between David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and Adams.
item mark Francie MacKey, then a SF councillor based in Omagh, County Tyrone, called on SF to renounce the Mitchell Principles. MacKey also announced that the would join the 32 County Sovereignty Committee.

Saturday 13 December 1997
item mark There was serious rioting in Derry by Catholic youths following an Apprentice Boys of Derry march through the city centre. All attempts to find an agreement between the Bogside Residents Association and the Apprentice Boys prior to the march had failed. The security forces said that 1,000 petrol bombs were thrown and they replied with 169 plastic bullets. [It was later estimated that £5 million pounds worth of damage was done to the centre of the city. Business leaders were angry at both the damage and also the loss of trade on what should be one of the busiest Saturdays in the run-up to Christmas.]

Monday 15 December 1997
item mark David Adams, an Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoner who is a cousin of Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), began a case in the High Court in Belfast against the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). David Adams claimed that he had been seriously assaulted by RUC officers while he was being arrested in 1994. [Later the court decided in his favour and Adams was awarded £30,000.]
item mark The family of Robert Hamill launched an appeal for funds to allow them to bring a private prosecution against his killers and member of the RUC. [Hamill, a Catholic civilian, was severely beaten in a sectarian attack by a gang of up to 30 loyalists in the centre of Portadown, County Armagh, on 27 April 1997 and died of his injuries on 8 May 1997. It was alleged that RUC officers in a vehicle nearby did not intervene to save his life.]

Sunday 21 December 1997
item mark Following rioting in Derry on 13 December 1997, 13 people appeared in court on charges relating to riotous behaviour.

Monday 22 December 1997
item mark Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), had talks with Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America, while on a visit to Washington. Clinton said that he was encouraged by the way the multi-party talks were progressing.

Tuesday 23 December 1997
item mark The multi-party talks at Stormont broke up for the Christmas holiday without real progress. Parties blamed each other for the lack of progress. George Mitchell, then Chairman of the multi-party talks, said that he remained optimistic that progress would be made in the new year.
item mark Despite the booming economy in the Republic of Ireland the Punt (the Irish pound) fell to its lowest level against sterling for almost 10 years when it was traded at 86.7p.

Saturday 27 December 1997
Billy Wright Shot Dead in Maze Prison
item mark Members of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) shot and killed Billy Wright (37), 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. Another LVF prisoner in the van was not attacked. The shooting took place around 10.00am. The shooting represented a serious breach of security both in the smuggling of a gun into the prison and the attack itself. [Wright, who was called "King Rat" by the media and security services, was the leader of the LVF. The LVF was composed mainly of former members of the mid-Ulster Brigade of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). Wright was thought to be personally responsible for the sectarian killing of a number of Catholic civilians. He had been under a death threat from former colleagues because he opposed the Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) ceasefire.]
item mark Seamus Dillon (45), a Catholic man, was shot dead by the LVF as he worked as a security guard outside a Dungannon Hotel, in County Tyrone. Two other security guards and a bar attendant, who was a teenager, were shot and injured. Dillon had served a term of imprisonment as a Republican prisoner but the attack was a random one at a place frequented by Catholics. [This attack was considered as a retaliation for the killing of Billy Wright. In the coming weeks 10 Catholics were shot dead by the LVF and the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF).]
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Monday 29 December 1997
item mark Three men, all Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) prisoners at the Maze, appeared in court charged with the murder of Billy Wright, who had been leader of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF).
item mark Adam Ingram, then Security Minister, announced that the inquiry into the escape of Liam Averill from the Maze Prison would be extended to include the killing of Billy Wright.

Tuesday 30 December 1997
item mark There was a heavy Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) presence in Portadown, County Armagh, during the funeral of Billy Wright, who had been leader of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF). Leaflets issued by the LVF requested shopkeepers to close their premises as a mark of respect.
Séamus Dillon, who had been killed by the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), was buried in Coalisland, County Tyrone. His family called for no retaliation for his murder.

Wednesday 31 December 1997
item mark Eddie Traynor (31), a Catholic man, was shot dead by members of a Loyalist paramilitary group in a gun attack on a public house, the Clifton Tavern, in north Belfast. Five other Catholics were shot and injured, some seriously, in the attack. The incident occurred at 9.00pm just as the bar was beginning to fill up with customers. The LVF issued a statement claiming that it had carried out the killing and said that the attack was in retaliation for the death of Billy Wright. It warned that there would be further attacks. Many people were sceptical of the claim that the LVF was solely responsible for the attack. Some reports said that a member of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) was seen in the car used by the attackers. [On 22 January 1998, Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), announced that the UFF were responsible for the killing of Eddie Traynor. The UFF is a cover name used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). The UFF at the time was supposed to be on ceasefire.]
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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 1997.
  • 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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