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A Chronology of the Conflict - 1998



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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 1998. For additional material on the peace process see the list of source documents.

1998 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sources Notes

1998

January 1998

Thursday 1 January 1998
item mark Several shots were fired at the home of a Catholic family in the Greymount area of Greencastle, north Belfast. There were no injuries and no Loyalist paramilitary group claimed responsibility for the shooting. Martin Morgan, then a Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) councillor, criticised the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) for not responding quickly enough to the incident.

Friday 2 January 1998
item mark There was a gun attack on the home of a Protestant family in Newtownbutler, County Fermanagh. There were no injuries as a result of the attack in which nine bullets were fired at the house. [A man stating he represented the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) claimed the shooting on behalf of the organisation. However, no recognised code word was given at the time of the claim.]
item mark Roísín McAliskey was formally committed for extradition to Germany at Bow Street Magistrates' Court in London. The charge related to an Irish Republican Army (IRA) mortar attack on the British Army Osnabruck barracks in Germany on 28 June 1996. [The British government took the final decision on 9 March 1998 not to extradite McAliskey on health grounds.]

Saturday 3 January 1998
item mark Loyalist prisoners representing the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), voted to withdraw their support for the peace process. They expressed anger at the British government’s handling of the process and insisted that concessions were being made to Republicans. However, the political leaders of the Loyalist paramilitary groups insisted that the 1994 ceasefire was still intact.
item mark Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said that she would not resign despite calls from Unionists for her to do so.
item mark The gates of the Catholic chapel in Harryville, Ballymena, County Antrim, were rammed by Loyalists in a stolen car following Saturday night mass. This incident was one of a number since picketing began outside the chapel in August 1996.
item mark A building, used by a community playgroup, in the grounds of a Catholic chapel, were destroyed in an arson attack believed to have been carried out by Loyalists.

Monday 5 January 1998
item mark The leadership of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) in the Maze Prison issued a statement warning that the Loyalist ceasefire was "extremely fragile". The UDA prisoners also demanded "equal treatment" with Republicans.
item mark Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, held meetings with Unionist and Nationalist politicians at Stormont Castle. The meetings included all the parties to the talks and also the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the United Kingdom Unionist (UKU) party.
item mark The funeral of Eddie Treanor took place in north Belfast.
item mark Families Against Intimidation and Terror (FAIT) issued figures on the number of 'punishment attacks' carried out by paramilitary organisations in Northern Ireland. The figures showed that there had been 72 shooting incidents in 1997 compared to 31 in 1996. Loyalists had been responsible for 48 (21 in 1996) attacks while Republicans had carried out 24 (10 in 1996) attacks. The number of 'punishment beatings' was 160 in 1997 only slightly lower than in 1996.
item mark In economic figures that confirmed the continuing economic boom of the ‘celtic tiger’, forecasts from the Department of Finance in the Republic of Ireland indicated that the Republic’s economy would be financially in the black for the first time in 30 years. Official returns showed that receipts in 1997 had risen by £1 billion (punts) more than the Department had estimated.

Tuesday 6 January 1998
item mark A large car bomb was defused in the centre of Banbridge, County Down. [The bomb, estimated at 500 pounds, was planted by the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA).]
item mark A Catholic man was shot and injured in the Meadows Tavern bar, Boucher Road, Belfast. It was believed that he had been shot by Direct Action Against Drugs (DAAD) which is considered to be a cover name (pseudonym) for the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

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

Thursday 8 January 1998
item mark It was announced that in addition to her meeting with Loyalist prisoners Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, could also meet Republican prisoners at the Maze Prison.
item mark Three British Army soldiers were killed in a road accident near Markethill, County Armagh.
Garda Síochána (the Irish police) uncovered an estimated one and a half tonnes of home-made explosives in a disused shop at Howth pier in Dublin. Four men were arrested as part of the operation. One of the men was believed to have links to the Thirty-Two County Sovereignty Committee. Dissident Republicans believed to be led by a former Irish Republican Army (IRA) Quartermaster General were believed to be responsible for the bomb.
item mark Bernadette Sands McKevitt, the vice-chairperson of the Thirty-Two County Sovereignty Committee and sister of Bobby Sands, criticised the peace process. She said that her brother and other Republicans did not die for cross-border bodies with executive powers.

Friday 9 January 1998
item mark Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, went into the Maze Prison to meet Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) prisoners in an attempt to change their decision to end their support for the peace process. Mowlam’s decision met with severe criticism from Unionist politicians. After the meeting, the prisoners agreed that the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), the political representatives of the UDA and the UFF, should continue in the talks.
item mark Edward Kennedy, then United States (US) Senator, paid a visit to Derry and delivered a speech on the American view of the prospects for peace in Northern Ireland.

Saturday 10 January 1998
item mark Terence (Terry) Enwright (28), a Catholic civilian who was a cross-community worker, was shot dead by the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) outside a night club in Belfast. Enwright was a highly respected community worker who, it was said, had saved scores of young people from paramilitary ‘punishment' attacks and had steered many others away from involvement in paramilitary groups. Enwright was also married to a niece of Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF). David Ervine, then a spokesman for the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), claimed that the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) was not operating alone and was receiving political direction from "seemingly respectable" politicians.
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Monday 12 January 1998
Propositions of Heads of Agreement

item mark The multi-party talks resumed at Stormont following a break for the Christmas holidays. The British and Irish governments issued a document, the 'Propositions of Heads of Agreement, in an attempt to add impetus to the multi-party Stormont talks. The two governments also issued a joint statement on the document. Most parties at the talks welcomed the document but Sinn Féin (SF) said it had reservations about the proposals. [These reservations deepened over the next few days.] The document set out a number of proposals: constitutional change only on the basis of consent; changes to be made to British and Irish constitutional law; a new Northern Ireland Assembly; establishment of a North - South Ministerial Council; establishment of a 'Council of the Isles'; new agreement to replace the Anglo-Irish Agreement; Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland; measures dealing with prisoners, security, policing, and decommissioning of paramilitary weapons.
Alan Gillespie was appointed chairperson of the Industrial Development Board (IDB). In a statement Gillespie warned of the impact the continuing violence was having on the image of Northern Ireland in the global marketplace.

Wednesday 14 January 1998
item mark A uniformed Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer was shot in the chest at close range by a female member of the British Army who was travelling in plain clothes in an unmarked vehicle. At approximately 1.15am an RUC patrol spotted two cars being driven in a suspicious manner in a Catholic area of north Belfast. The two cars drove off and the RUC patrol gave chase. One of the cars crashed at the junction of Crumlin Road and Antrim Road. As the RUC officer approached the vehicle he was shot and seriously injured. Sinn Féin (SF) described the incident as sinister.
item mark The funeral took place in Belfast of Terence (Terry) Enwright (28), a Catholic civilian, who was shot dead by the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF). Thousands of people of different ages and different religious backgrounds stood along the funeral route.

Thursday 15 January 1998
item mark The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) accused Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers of physically assaulting its Vice-Chairman Martin Morgan when he went to speak to protesters in the Whitewall Road area of Belfast. Morgan sustained a broken arm and bruising in the incident. [Morgan had criticised the RUC in media reports about an incident in north Belfast on 1 January 1998. The RUC later announced an inquiry into the events surrounding Morgan's injury.]
item mark Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), said that he did not want RUC officers to belong to the Orange Order or any of the other loyal orders. The statement was made in the Channel 4 programme 'Dispatches'. In the same programme a group of defence lawyers claimed that there was compelling evidence that the RUC and the British Army had been involved in "numerous" illegal killings.
item mark Sinn Féin (SF) staged a protest outside Antrim Road Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) station in Belfast. SF called for the release of ballistic reports on the gun which was used by Loyalist paramilitaries in the killing of Eddie Traynor on 31 December 1997. SF claimed that RUC ballistics reports were available within 24 hours whenever incidents involving Republican paramilitaries occurred.
item mark Seven Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners who had been serving sentences in jails in Britain were transferred to Portlaoise Prison in the Republic of Ireland.
item mark Mary McAleese, then President of the Republic of Ireland, paid her first official visit to Britain since her election. She spoke of the prospect of the British and Irish people standing "on the threshold of a new and very healthy phase" in their relationship.

Sunday 18 January 1998
item mark Fergal (Rick) McCusker (28), a Catholic man, was abducted and shot dead by the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) at around 1.15 am in Maghera, County Derry. McCusker was walking home after having been out drinking with friends. His body was discovered behind the premises of a youth club. McCusker had recently returned to Northern Ireland having worked for a while in the United States of America. He was the fourth Catholic to be killed since 27 December 1997.
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item mark Jean Kennedy Smith, then United States of America (USA) Ambassador to Ireland, came under attack from Ray Seitz, formerly US Ambassador to Britain (1991 to 1994), who branded her "an ardent IRA apologist". Seitz made the claims in a recently published book of memoirs. Reacting to the claims, the White House said President Clinton had every confidence in Kennedy Smith.

Monday 19 January 1998
item mark Jim Guiney (38), then a commander in the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), was shot dead by two members of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) at his carpet shop in Dunmurray, Belfast. Guiney was married with four children.
item mark Larry Brennan (51), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) on the Ormeau Road in Belfast. Brennan was working as a taxi-driver when he was shot at 7.20pm. [The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) initially claimed responsibility for the killing but many people considered it unlikely that the LVF would have acted alone. It was claimed that the attack was carried out by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) / Ulster Defence Association (UDA) in retaliation for the killing of Jim Guiney. Brennan’s Protestant girlfriend was later told she would be shot if she went to his funeral and she also had to leave her home in a Loyalist area of Belfast. 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 Larry Brennan. The UFF is a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). The UFF at the time was on a self-proclaimed ceasefire.]
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item mark A delegation from Sinn Féin (SF) went to Downing Street, London to have talks with Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, about the 'Propositions of Heads of Agreement’ document. SF claimed that the document had emphasised a ‘partition solution’ to the problems of Northern Ireland at the expense of all-Ireland institutions. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) rejected SF’s assessment of the document.

Tuesday 20 January 1998
item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), accused the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) / Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) of "actively" collaborating with the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) in some of the recent killings of Catholics. However, Adams said that the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), the political representatives of the UDA / UFF, should not be expelled from the multi-party Stormont talks.

Wednesday 21 January 1998
item mark Benedict (Ben) Hughes (55), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) in Utility Street, south Belfast. Hughes was shot as he left his place of work in Sandy Row a Protestant part of Belfast. Hughes was married with three children. No group claimed responsibility for the shooting. [On 22 January 1998, Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), announced that the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) were responsible for the killing of Benedict Hughes. The UFF is a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). The UFF at the time was on a self-proclaimed ceasefire.]
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item mark John McFarland, a Catholic civilian, was shot and injured by a Loyalist paramilitary group in Belfast. McFarland was in his taxi at the time and was able to drive himself to hospital.
item mark Steven Paul, a Protestant man, was shot and injured by an unidentified Loyalist paramilitary group. Paul was shot in his home in Belvoir Park estate, Belfast.
item mark The funeral of Fergal (Rick) McCusker took place near Maghera, County Derry.
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a statement that rejected the 'Propositions of Heads of Agreement' document as being pro-Unionist.

Thursday 22 January 1998
RUC Blame UDA / UFF For Killings

item mark Chris McMahon (29), a Catholic civilian, was shot and seriously wounded at the bakery where he worked in Newtownabbey, near Belfast. McMahon was shot at around 6.00pm in a random attack by a Loyalist paramilitary group.
item mark Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), stated that the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) were involved in the recent killings of three Catholics. This despite the fact that the UFF was supposed to be on ceasefire. The UFF is a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). David Adams, then a spokesman for the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), denied that the UFF were behind the recent killings. There were calls for the UDP to be expelled from the multi-party talks.
item mark The funeral of Larry Brennan took place in Belfast.
item mark The funeral of Jim Guiney, who was a leading member of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), took place in Lisburn, County Down.
item mark Further evidence of the Republic of Ireland’s growing modern technological base was confirmed when Dell Computer announced plans to create 3,000 new jobs in Limerick, County Limerick and Bray, County Wicklow, over the next three years in an £180m. expansion plan.

Friday 23 January 1998
UFF Reinstate Ceasefire

item mark The Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) for the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), issued a statement saying that they were reinstating their ceasefire following a "measured military response". The statement was seen as an admission that they had been responsible for a number of recent deaths of Catholics. Nationalists were angered by the wording of the statement; Martin McGuinness, the Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), described it as an affront. A number of parties and individuals called for the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), which is politically associated with the UDA / UFF, to be expelled from the multi-party talks at Stormont. The UDP issued a short statement in response to these calls.
item mark Liam Conway (39), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by a Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) gunman in Hesketh Road, in north Belfast. The shooting occurred around 5.00pm a few hours after the UFF had announced the reinstatement of its ceasefire. Conway was working on laying gas pipes in a Loyalist area. Liam Conway worked to help support his sister and two blind brothers. [The UFF / UDA denied that it was responsible for the killing.]
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item mark A man was shot and injured in the legs in a Loyalist paramilitary ‘punishment’ attack.
The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) arrested a 13 Protestant men in various parts of Belfast. Four of the men were from Portadown and were believed to have links with the LVF.
The RUC also discovered a cache of Powergel, a powerful commercial explosive, together with other explosives in a house in the Shankill area of Belfast. An estimated 300 pounds of explosive were recovered.
item mark Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), laid a wreath at the ‘Bloody Sunday’ memorial in the Bogside during a visit to Derry. He called for a full independent inquiry into the events of ‘Bloody Sunday’. He also visited Belfast where he stated that there would be no "internal solution" to the problems of Northern Ireland and that any North-South bodies would have to have executive powers.

Saturday 24 January 1998
item mark John McColgan (33), a Catholic man, was shot dead in Belfast and his body left on the Upper Glen Road, Belfast. The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) claimed that its members carried out the killing but there were immediate doubts about who was responsible. The shooting occurred late in the evening when McColgan, who was a taxi driver, picked up a number of men on the Anderstown Road at around 9.00pm. These men forced McColgan to drive to Hannahstown Hill then shot him around 9.30pm and left his body on the road, and drove off in the taxi. [McColgan's death brought the number of Catholics killed since 27 December 1997 to eight.]
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item mark A car bomb exploded outside an entertainment club, the 'River Club' on Factory Road in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh. Warnings about the bomb were received at 7.30pm and the bomb exploded at around 9.30pm. The building was extensively damaged but there were no injuries. [A Republican paramilitary group, the ‘Continuity’ Irish Republican Army (CIRA) was thought to be responsible.] There was also a hoax bomb alert at Newtownbutler, County Fermanagh.
item mark The funeral of Ben Hughes, shot by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) / Ulster Defence Association (UDA), took place at Milltown Cemetery in Belfast. A number of his Protestant work colleagues took part in the funeral.
item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), said that many Nationalists would be sceptical of the claims by the UFF that it had resumed its ceasefire.
item mark Seamus Mallon, then deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), said, in an interview, that the multi-party talks process now faced a moral dilemma. Mallon said that he found it morally questionable and distasteful that "parties connected with those that kill should remain in the talks".
item mark The Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) held a meeting in Dublin to discuss the killings in Northern Ireland. [The IRSP is considered to be the political wing of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA).]
item mark A march to commemorate the dead of ‘Bloody Sunday’ took place in London. Anthony Farrar-Hockley, former commander of British Army land forces in Northern Ireland, said that he saw no need to apologise for the killing of 14 people in Derry on ‘Bloody Sunday’.

Sunday 25 January 1998
item mark A Catholic man, was shot and injured by the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) in the Taghnevan Estate in Lurgan. The man was sitting in the cab of a lorry when a lone gunman shot at him several times. A man in his 20s was the victim of a paramilitary ‘punishment’ attack. The man was beaten by five masked men who broke into a house in Drummard Park, Derry.
item mark Relatives of those killed on ‘Bloody Sunday’ called on the British government to establish a full, independent inquiry into the killings on 30 January 1972.
item mark Around 1,000 people attended a peace vigil in Belfast to protest against the recent spate of killings of Catholics by Loyalist paramilitary groups.

Monday 26 January 1998
UDP Expelled From Talks

item mark The multi-party talks switched venue from Stormont in Belfast to Lancaster House in London in an attempt to inject impetus to the search for a political settlement. However, following the revelation that the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), had been involved in the killing of (at least) three Catholics in the previous couple of weeks there were calls for the expulsion of the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) which is politically associated with the UDA / UFF. The British and Irish governments, at the insistence of some of the other political parties, took the final decision to expel the UDP. By this time the UDP had already left the talks venue. The two governments issued a document on UDP participation. This indicated that the UDP could re-enter the talks process if the UFF maintained its renewed ceasefire.
item mark [Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, revealed that she knew on 12 January 1998 of the UFF's breach of its ceasefire. Mowlam must have been informed of this by Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). Flanagan only made the information public on 22 January 1998. Immediately after the UFF was named as being responsible it called a renewed ceasefire. During the 10 day delay in making the announcement public three Catholic civilians were killed by Loyalist paramilitaries.]
item mark The funeral of Liam Conway, shot dead by the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), took place in Donaghmore, County Tyrone. His blind brother helped carry the coffin.
item mark It was revealed that a member of a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) patrol in Derry pointed a gun at a Catholic security man outside a night club and fired a blank bullet. [This incident followed the shooting dead of two Catholic security men outside night clubs in the previous two weeks.]

Tuesday 27 January 1998
item mark A Catholic man, employed by a taxi firm in North Belfast, escaped death when the weapon used by a Loyalist gunman jammed. The attack took place at around 3.00am and the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) was believed to be responsible.
item mark The Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA) announced that the LVF had issued death threats against a number of Catholic cross-community workers in the mid-Ulster area.
item mark The funeral took place of John McColgan in Belfast.
item mark Second day of the multi-party talks at Lancaster House in London. The British and Irish governments introduced a new discussion document on the proposed nature of cross-border bodies. While the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and Sinn Féin (SF) welcomed the document, the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) rejected the proposals as a move back to the Framework Document. At a press conference Jeffrey Donaldson, then UUP Member of Parliament (MP), tore up a copy of the Framework Document which prompted some laughter from David Trimble, then leader of the UUP. [When this item was reported in the news it followed emotional scenes of the funeral of John McColgan and led to a number of protests about the behaviour of the two UUP MPs.] The two governments also issued a document on the proposed east-west structures (Council of the Isles). The governments said that it was up to the parties to hammer out an agreement on the basis of the papers before them. Following the main session of the day, Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, went to Lancaster House in the evening to meet with all the parties and to urge them to engage with each other and to reach a compromise.
item mark The cost of running the multi-party talks was revealed in a written answer to a parliamentary question. The costs were: £675,000 paid in total to elected delegates, £675,000 paid in allowances and research grants, £180,000 on party support staff, payments for the three chairmen amounted to £320,000 in salaries, £250,000 for accommodation, and £418,000 in travel expenses. Between June and November of 1997 the Irish government had contributed £1.4 million towards the costs of the talks process.
item mark Five Labour Members of Parliament (MPs) held a meeting in Derry with relatives of the victims of 'Bloody Sunday'. [An announcement of a new inquiry into the events in Derry on 30 January 1972 was made on 29 January 1998.]

Wednesday 28 January 1998
item mark Third day of multi-party talks at Lancaster House in London. Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said that a face-to-face meeting between the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and Sinn Féin (SF) would be a useful development. Gerry Adams, then President of SF, sent a letter to David Trimble, then leader of the UUP, requesting a meeting between SF and the UUP.

Thursday 29 January 1998
item mark Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, announced a new inquiry into the events surrounding ‘Bloody Sunday’ in Derry on 30 January 1972. Relatives announced that they could now consider Lord Widgery’s report to be "dead." [The new inquiry was to be known as the Saville Inquiry.]

Saturday 31 January 1998
item mark The Loyalist picket of the Catholic church in Harryville, Ballymena, continued. The picket first began in September 1996.

February 1998

Sunday 1 February 1998
item mark A march was held in Derry to mark the 26th anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday’. A estimated crowd of 30,000 people walked over the same route as the original march from the Creggan estate to the Bogside area of the city. Some of the relatives of those killed on 30 January 1972 said the announcement of the new inquiry (on 29 January 1998) gave them hope that the truth would be uncovered. Some buses taking people back to Belfast following the march were attacked with stones as they travelled through the mainly Protestant village of Drumahoe, County Derry.
item mark The Sunday Life (a Northern Ireland newspaper) carried a story that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) had acquired a set of confidential British Army intelligence files. The story claimed the files were accidentally dumped when an army barracks was demolished in Kilkeel, County Down.
item mark A survey of opinion reported in the Sunday Independent (a Republic of Ireland newspaper) indicated that almost half of those questioned thought that internment should be introduced on both sides of the border if Loyalist or Republican paramilitaries rejected any agreement and continued violence.

Tuesday 3 February 1998
item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), published his reply to a letter from Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), requesting a meeting between the two parties. In his reply, in the form of a statement to the Irish Times (a Republic of Ireland newspaper), Trimble set out a number of conditions for meeting with Adams.

Wednesday 4 February 1998
item mark The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) admitted firing a shot at a Protestant man in the Mourneview estate in Lurgan, County Armagh. The man wasn't injured but the LVF warned him to leave the area.
item mark In a report to the House of Commons Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Colin Smith, then Inspector of Constabulary, said that senior members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) were "reluctant" to embrace changes in the organisation and displayed "defensiveness" towards new ideas.
item mark Proposals contained in the Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Bill would mean that organisers of demonstrations would be required to provide the RUC with 14 days notice.

Thursday 5 February 1998
item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), published his response to remarks made by John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). In the response Adams set out SF's opposition to any new Assembly at Stormont.
item mark David Andrews, then Irish Foreign Minister, paid a visit to Northern Ireland. He travelled to Kilkeel and Newcastle, County Down before travelling to Belfast. In Belfast Andrews laid a wreath at the site of the shooting of five Catholics on the Lower Ormea Road in 1992. Unionist politicians criticised the visit.

Friday 6 February 1998
item mark It was reported in the Irish Times (a Republic of Ireland newspaper) that the British government would not implement proposals which would reduce the number of legally-held firearms in Northern Ireland. The report suggested that Unionist politicians had lobbied hard to have the proposals shelved. [It is estimated that there are 87,017 firearms certificates issued in Northern Ireland which cover 134,086 weapons. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) state that 80 per cent of the weapons are shotguns and air guns while the remainder are personal protection weapons. There are no figures for the religious breakdown of the ownership of weapons but it is generally thought that the vast majority of weapons are held by Protestants.

Monday 9 February 1998
item mark Brendan Campbell (30), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead outside a restaurant on the Lisburn Road, Belfast. Campbell was alleged to be a drugs dealer and the group called Direct Action Against Drugs (DAAD) claimed responsibility. [Many people believed that DAAD was a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). The killing of Campbell (and Robert Dougan on 10 February 1998) led to the expulsion of Sinn Féin (SF) from the multi-party talks on 20 February 1998.]
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item mark A political row broke out between Ken Maginnis, then Security spokesperson for the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. In a letter to David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), Mowlam demanded an apology from Maginnis for allegedly calling her "a damned liar" during a session of the talks at Stormont. Maginnis said he had "no intention whatsoever" of apologising. In another row, involving Sinn Féin (SF) and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), John Hume, then leader of the SDLP, defended his party colleague, Seamus Mallon, from accusations by Republicans that his attitude at the talks had been "extremely unhelpful".
item mark The British government published proposals, Your Voice Your Choice, for reforms to the Northern Ireland Police Authority (NIPA).
item mark The Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights (SACHR) submitted a report to Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, expressing concern about the continuing high levels of Catholic unemployment despite the introduction of two Fair Employment acts. The report entitled Employment Equality: Building for the Future examined the effectiveness of fair employment legislation and the impact of government policy. Figures on unemployment showed that Catholics continued to be twice as likely to be unemployed as Protestants.
item mark A number of UUP members, who opposed the party's involvement in the multi-party talks, established a new pressure group called the 'Committee for Traditional Ulster Unionist Values'. The new grouping was led by Nelson McCausland.

Tuesday 10 February 1998
item mark Robert Dougan (38), a leading Loyalist, was shot dead in Dunmurry near Belfast. [It was believed that Dougan was a leading member of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). While no group claimed responsibility for the killing Republican paramilitaries were involved and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) were later blamed by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) for the death. The killing of Dougan (and Brendan Campbell on 9 February 1998) led to the expulsion of Sinn Féin (SF) from the multi-party talks on 20 February 1998.]
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item mark Mark Fulton, considered to be a leading Loyalist figure, was attacked by a gunman who fired two shots at him in the Redmondville estate, Portadown, County Armagh. Fulton escaped injury but blamed the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) for the attack. This claim was denied by David Ervine, then leader of the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP).

12 February 1998
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a statement which said that the IRA’s ceasefire was still intact. [This was seen as an attempt to prevent Sinn Féin (SF) from being expelled from the multi-party talks.]

Monday 16 February 1998
Talks Move to Dublin

item mark The multi-party talks moved venue from Stormont in Belfast to Dublin Castle in the Republic of Ireland. In addition to representatives of the Irish government and the British government seven political parties were also present at the talks. The parties were: Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), Sinn Féin (SF), Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI), Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), Northern Ireland Women's Coalition (NIWC), and Labour. In the days leading up to the meeting there had been speculation that the British government would move to have Sinn Féin (SF) expelled from the negotiations because the Irish Republican Army (IRA) were believed to be responsible for two killings in Belfast on 9 and 10 February 1998. Gerry Adams, then President of SF, said that he was "absolutely pissed off" after the Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), indicated that he would support moves to exclude SF from the multi-party talks. This followed a declaration (in the form of a 'speaking note') from the British government that it would begin an indictment procedure against Republicans.
item mark British ministers said that they agreed with the assessment Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), that the IRA was responsible for the two killings in Belfast on 9 and 10 February 1998. SF said that it would fight the move to have the party expelled from the talks.
item mark In a written parliamentary reply Adam Ingram, then a Northern Ireland Minister, gave details of security incidents in the region for the six month period 20 July 1997 to 25 January 1998. The figures showed that Loyalist paramilitaries had been responsible for 13 deaths during the period while Republicans had been responsible for two killings. In total there had been 93 shooting incidents of which 51 were attributed to Loyalists and 21 to Republicans (the other 21 attacks could not be attributed). Republicans were believed to have carried out 20 bombing incidents while Loyalists were responsible for six bomb attacks.
item mark Tesco in Ireland stated that an advertisement placed by its British parent company pledging not to buy Irish beet for its British stores was a "mistake". The advertisement had caused outrage amongst Irish farmers.

Tuesday 17 February 1998
item mark Kevin Conway (30), a Catholic civilian, was taken from his home in Lurgan, County Armagh, by armed men. [Conway’s body was found on 19 February 1998 in a derelict building with his hands tied behind his back. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) later said that they believed that Republican paramilitaries were responsible for the killing.]
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Wednesday 18 February 1998
item mark Sinn Féin (SF) brought a High Court action in Dublin to try to prevent the party from being expelled from the multi-party talks. [The action was eventually to fail and SF was expelled from the talks.]
item mark David Adams, a cousin of Gerry Adams then President of Sinn Féin (SF), was awarded £30,000 in damages against the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) for injuries he received when he was assaulted by several officers. David Adams suffered a broken leg, two fractured ribs, a punctured lung and multiple cuts and bruises after he was arrested in 1994. Adams was arrested when the RUC prevented an attempt to kill a senior detective.
item mark The Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) published a video entitled Policing the Police which highlighted a number of complaints against the RUC in relation to their policing of controversial parades in Nationalist areas. One clip showed Rosemary Nelson, then a solicitor based in Lurgan, County Armagh, who alleged she was physically and verbally abused by RUC officers when she tried to speak to them about their handling of a Nationalist demonstration against an Orange Order parade down the Garvaghy Road, Portadown. Nelson claimed that the RUC officers had called her a "Fenian fucker" and had told her to "fuck off" when she had asked for an officer's number. [Rosemary Nelson was killed by Loyalist paramilitaries on 15 March 1999 amid claims of security force collusion in her death.]

Thursday 19 February 1998
item mark The body of Kevin Conway (39), a Catholic civilan from Lurgan, County Armagh, was discovered in a derelict farmhouse near Aghalee, County Antrim. Conway had been abducted from his home on 17 February 1998 and was shot in the head. [The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) later blamed local Irish Republican Army (IRA) elements for the killing.]
item mark Two letter bombs were sent to the homes of Nationalists in the Ardoyne area of Belfast, and to the village of Toombridge, County Antrim.

Friday 20 February 1998
Sinn Féin Expelled from Talks
item mark The Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) exploded a large car bomb, estimated at 500 pounds, outside the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) station in the centre of Moria, County Down. The bomb caused extensive damage to a number of commercial and private premises in the centre of the village. Eleven people, mostly RUC officers, received slight injuries in the explosion.
item mark Sinn Féin (SF) were formally expelled from the multi-party talks by the British and Irish governments because of allegations of Irish Republican Army (IRA) involvement in two killings in Belfast on 9 and 10 February 1998. The deadline for the return of SF was set as 9 March 1998. The British and Irish governments issued a statement setting out the reasons why they had taken the decision to exclude Sinn Féin (SF) from the talks. Gerry Adams, then President of SF, described the expulsion as "disgraceful". Unionists reacted angrily to the 17 day exclusion considering it too short. [SF organised a number of street protests over the next few days to highlight its opposition to the decision. SF rejoined the talks on 23 March 1998.]

Sunday 22 February 1998
item mark Patrick Gallagher, a former Dublin based financier, claimed in a newspaper that he had given Charles Haughey, formerly Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), £375,000 in 1979.

Monday 23 February 1998
item mark A Republican paramilitary group exploded a large car bomb, estimated at 300 pounds, in the centre of Portadown, County Armagh. Many business premises in the centre of the town were severely damaged by the explosion and two buildings were completely demolished by the blast. There were no injuries in the explosion. [It was thought that the bomb had been planted by the ‘Continuity’ Irish Republican Army (CIRA).]

Tuesday 24 February 1998
item mark The Garda Síochána (the Irish police) uncovered a 250 pound bomb in County Cavan which was being prepared for transportation to a target in Northern Ireland. [It was believed that the bomb was the work of the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA).]
item mark Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced the appointment of a new Parades Commission containing seven members. Among the new members were two people with a background in the Loyalist tradition, Glen Barr and Tommy Cheevers. Mowlam stated that she couldn't find anyone from a Republican working-class base to balance the two appointments.
item mark A representative of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) contacted the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in Northern Ireland to state that the IRA had not been involved in recent bomb attacks and also to deny that there was a split in the organisation.
item mark An umbrella group called New Agenda was formed when representatives of civic leaders from business, trade unions, the churches, and the voluntary sector in Northern Ireland met in Belfast. The group announced its support for the peace process and have urged the public in Northern Ireland to play a greater role in the search for a peaceful settlement.

Wednesday 25 February 1998
item mark Four people were injured when a letter-bomb exploded in a Royal Mail sorting office in the centre of Belfast. [This was the third letter-bomb to be found in Northern Ireland during the previous week.]

Thursday 26 February 1998
item mark The Court of Appeal ruled that Paratrooper Lee Clegg should be granted a retrial. [The family of Karen Reilly who was shot dead in a ‘joy-riding’ incident on 30 September 1990 were said to be "devastated" by the news of the retrial.]

Saturday 28 February 1998
item mark The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) carried out a hand grenade attack on Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers who were investigating a break-in and arson attack on Hazelwood Integrated College in north Belfast. Two RUC officers and two civilians were treated for shock as a result of the incident.
item mark Mary McAleese, then President of the Republic of Ireland, indicated that she would celebrate the two major holidays on the island of Ireland, St Patrick’s Day on 17 March and the Orange Order’s celebration of the victory at the Battle of the Boyne on 12 July. It was announced that parties would be held at Aras an Uachtarain on these two dates. The celebrations were believed to be part of a "bridge building" theme which the President plans to adopt during her term of office.

March 1998

Tuesday 3 March 1998
Poyntzpass Killings
item mark Two lifelong friends Damian Traynor (26), a Catholic civilian, and Philip Allen (34), a Protestant civilian, were shot dead and two other men injured by Loyalist paramilitaries in the Railway Bar in Poyntzpass, County Armagh. Loyalist paramilitaries entered the pub and ordered the two men to lie on the floor and then shot them dead. The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) was believed to be responsible for the killings which caused shock across Northern Ireland. [The fact that the killings happened in a mixed community which had experienced little of the conflict had a profound impact on opinion in Northern Ireland.]
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item mark The Garda Síochána (the Irish police) discovered a car bomb, estimated at 600 pounds, in County Louth, which was believed to be in preparation for an attack by the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) in Armagh.
item mark Jacques Santer, then President of the European Commission, announced that there would be an extra £88 million of funding for urban and rural regeneration in Northern Ireland. The announcement was welcomed by most political parties with the exception of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) who expressed concern at how the money would be spent.

Wednesday 4 March 1998
item mark The impact of the double killing in the village of Poyntzpass, County Armagh, on 3 March 1998 continued to be felt across Northern Ireland. In a rare show of unity David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and Seamus Mallon, then Deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and the Member of Parliament (MP) for the area, walked through the village together to pay their respect to the families of those killed and to condemn the killings. Leaders of the main Churches in Ireland issued a strong condemnation of the violence that had escalated since 27 December 1997.
item mark The British government issued a discussion paper on the future of policing in Northern Ireland.
item mark John McDonnell, then a Labour Member of Parliament (MP), said that the Irish in Britain should be treated as a separate ethnic category in the census in 2001.

Thursday 5 March 1998
item mark The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) were believed to be responsible for a gun attack on a family in the mainly Protestant Parkhill Estate in Antrim, County Antrim. A three year old girl and her Protestant mother were injured in the attack while her Catholic husband escaped injury.
item mark Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, visited the families of the two men killed in Poyntzpass, County Armagh, on 3 March 1998. [Mowlam was seen to be visibly moved following the meeting. She was later criticised by Unionists for not going to the bomb sites at Moira and Portadown.]
item mark The Anglo-Irish Inter-Governmental Conference issued a joint statement following a meeting of the Conference.

Friday 6 March 1998
item mark In the village of Poyntzpass, County Armagh, Protestants and Catholics attended both funeral services for the victims of the double killings on 3 March 1998. [Many people believed and hoped that the killings might prove a watershed in the conflict.]
item mark Ian Paisley Jr and Sammy Wilson, then both members of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), attended a Loyalist rally in Portadown, County Armagh, which was called to oppose the Peace Process. Paisley called for the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to be "exterminated". [The rally was organised by the Concerned Protestants Committee (CPC) a group which was campaigning for an inquiry into the death of Billy Wright (37), who had been leader of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF). The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) was critical of the DUP for taking part in the rally and claimed that the organisers were sympathetic to the LVF.]
item mark A report in The Irish Times confirmed that the Irish nation would be defined in terms of its people, rather than its territory, in the new wording for Article 2 of the Irish Constitution. The paper also reported that the new Article 3 would enshrine the principle of consent while "expressing the wish of the majority of the Irish people for a united Ireland". The proposed amendments to the Irish Constitution was part of the political package to bring about a settlement in the North.

Sunday 8 March 1998
item mark Loyalist paramilitaries carried out a bomb attack on the home of a Catholic man and his Protestant partner in Larne, County Antrim. The man claimed that attack was sectarian and blamed local members of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA); he said that he was involved in a ‘run-in’ (a fracas) with a leading Loyalist figure the previous week. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) said that no motive had been established for the attack.
item mark The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) issued threats against Protestant churchmen, business leaders and politicians whom it claimed were "colluding" with the peace process. In a ‘policy document’ the LVF expressed support for Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), saying "Paisley has got it absolutely right".
item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), conceded that there was no prospect of an imminent united Ireland. An article written by Adams appeared in the Ireland on Sunday (a Republic of Ireland newspaper) set out the minimum demands that would have to be met before SF would sign any agreement. item mark An opinion poll published in the same paper reported that 71 per cent of people in the Republic of Ireland wanted to see a united Ireland.

Monday 9 March 1998
Decision Not To Extradite McAliskey
item mark The British government took the decision not to extradite Roísín McAliskey to Germany. The charge related to an Irish Republican Army (IRA) mortar attack on the British Army Osnabruck barracks in Germany on 28 June 1996. McAliskey was five months pregnant at the time of her arrest. The British decision was based on medical grounds and followed the detention of McAliskey for a period of 16 months during which time she gave birth to a baby girl. McAliskey was subsequently released in April 1998 and returned to Northern Ireland. [There had been a strong campaign to secure her release in Britain, Ireland, Europe and the United States of America (USA). A number of commentators felt that the timing of the announcement was designed to increase the pressure on Sinn Féin (SF) to rejoin the multi-party talks at Stormont.]

Tuesday 10 March 1998
item mark Republican paramilitaries carried out a mortar attack on the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) base on the Newry Road in Armagh. A British Army patrol spotted the mortars and raised the alarm. People were evacuated from the surrounding area and there were no injuries. [It was believed that the attack was carried out by the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA).]
item mark A west Belfast Republican activist accused members of a joint Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and British Army patrol of firing blank shots at him after they had carried out a body search and an identity check. A British soldier fired live rounds 20 minutes later in a nearby area when he believed he had seen a gunman. No shots were fired at the patrol.
item mark The chairmen of the multi-party talks issued a discussion paper on the proposed cross-border bodies.

Thursday 12 March 1998
item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), travelled to London for talks with Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister.
item mark In the Republic of Ireland the Irish Labour Party has won by-elections in Limerick East and Dublin North, which reduced the government’s overall majority to one. The punt hit its lowest level against sterling for nine years, closing at 81.95p. Albert Reynolds, formerly Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) announced his retirement when he said that he would not stand for the Daíl at the next general election. [Reynolds had played a vital role in the Peace Process.]

15 March 1998
item mark David Keys (26), who had been charged with the murder of two friends at Poyntzpass, Co. Armagh, was found hanged in his cell at the Maze Prison. Both of Keys’ wrists were also slashed. At the time the RUC said that they were treating his death as murder. [It was believed that Keys had been beaten and then hung from a window to give the impression that he had committed suicide. Keys had elected to be held in the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) wing of the Maze Prison and it is believed that the LVF killed him either because of the intense reaction to the Poyntzpass killings on 3 March 1998 or because the LVF thought he had informed on members of the organisation. Three other men were also charged with the Poyntzpass killings. Later over a dozen members of the LVF were charged with involvement in the killing of Keys.]
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Tuesday 17 March 1998
First St Partick’s Day Parade in Belfast
item mark Loyalist paramilitaries carried out a bomb attack on St. Comgall’s parish centre in Larne, County Antrim. [It was believed that the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) was responsible for the attack. There were no injuries and only minor damage to the hall.]
item mark An ‘official’ St. Patrick’s day parade took place in Belfast. [This was the first time since the establishment of the state that a parade had received backing from Belfast City Council. The organising committee had stated their wish to have a cross-community celebration. Following the parade a number of Unionist councillors, particularly members of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) claimed that Irish Republican Army (IRA) slogans were shouted by people in the crowd. Unionists also objected to the fact that the ‘tricolour’ (the Irish national flag) was displayed by some spectators. The objections following the parade in 1998 was to result in Belfast City Council withdrawing funds for future parades.]
item mark In the cafeteria of the House of Commons Ken Maginnis, then Security Spokesperson of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), took down two ‘tricolour’ flags that were part of a display for St. Patrick’s day and threw them into the Thames river saying he "did not think they would pollute the river too much". item mark This incident happened while his colleague and party leader David Trimble was in the United States of America (USA) for the St Patrick’s day celebrations. While in Washington Trimble had a meeting with Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America (USA). Clinton was believed to have urged Trimble to hold a face-to-face meeting with Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF). [The UUP later said that it was not interested in a "stunt meeting" with Adams.] item mark A number of other Northern Ireland politicians also made the trip to the USA for St. Patrick’s day.

Wednesday 18 March 1998
item mark The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) arrested 15 Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) prisoners in the Maze Prison in connection with the killing of David Keys (26) on 15 March 1998 inside the Maze.

Friday 20 March 1998
item mark The centre of Derry was cleared for four hours while the British Army defused a bomb. [It was claimed that a Republican challenged two Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) members as they planted the bomb in the Northern Bank in Guildhall Square, Derry. It was also claimed that one of the CIRA men pulled out a gun to stop anyone interfering with them.]
item mark The film Resurrection Man went on general release in Northern Ireland. The film was based on the killings carried out by of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) ‘Shankill Butchers’ gang. [There was a mixed response to the film, some people accused the film-makers of dredging up painful memories for the relatives of those killed while others felt that the events were a legitimate subject for the cinema.]

Saturday 21 March 1998
item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), delivered a key note speech at the Annual General Meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council.

Sunday 22 March 1998
item mark Garda Síochána (the Irish police) discovered a large bomb, estimated at 1,300 pounds, in Dundalk, Republic of Ireland, which was about to be transported to a target in Northern Ireland. Two men were arrested at the scene of the discovery. [It was initially believed that the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) was responsible for the bomb.]
item mark The Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition (GRRC) organised a march from Park Road in Portadown, County Armagh, to a rally on the Garvaghy Road in Portadown. The march was held to highlight the continuing lack of dialogue between the Orange Order and the residents of the Garvaghy Road. Several hundred Loyalists gathered to demonstrate against the parade and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) kept the two groups apart.
item mark A Loyalist gang of approximately 50 men tried to enter a Nationalist estate in north Belfast but were prevented by an RUC patrol. The Loyalists then attacked the RUC car and the officers inside with petrol bombs. Reinforcements had to be called and six people were arrested.

Monday 23 March 1998
Sinn Féin (SF) Rejoined Talks
item mark After some initial doubts, Sinn Féin rejoined the multi-party talks at Stormont. [Although the party had been expelled on 20 February 1998 and the date set for the return to the talks was 9 March 1998, SF had delayed until it had secured a meeting with the British Prime Minister and then decided to wait until after the St Patrick's Day celebrations.]
item mark The House of Commons Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs published a report that highlighted electoral malpractice in the region. The report drew attention to the particular problem of absent voting (postal votes) as well as a serious level of multiple registration in a number of areas.

Tuesday 24 March 1998
item mark Dissident Republicans carried out a mortar attack on an Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) station in south Armagh. It was thought that four mortar bombs had been fired at the police barracks in the village of Forkhill. One was believed to have exploded in the grounds of the base, and another to have landed there without exploding. No one was injured in the attack.

Wednesday 25 March 1998
Mitchell Sets Deadline
item mark After almost two years of talks based at Stormont George Mitchell, then Chairman of the multi-party talks, set a deadline of two weeks for the political parties to reach an agreement. In setting a deadline of 9 April 1998 Mitchell said: "I believe strongly that we can and will reach an agreement."
item mark Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), said that he believed that splinter groups opposed to the peace process had been responsible for some recent Republican violence. [Unionists had been calling for Sinn Féin’s (SF) exclusion from the multi-party talks following a number of recent incidents.]
item mark The RUC confirmed that two mortars were fired at a British Army observation post at Glassdrummond, County Armagh. [Dissident Republicans were believed to be responsible for the attack.]
item mark Bob Cooper, then Chairman of the Fair Employment Commission, called for the British government to find new ways of increasing the number of Catholics in security related jobs. It was estimated that there had been only a one per cent increase, to 8.4 per cent, in the number of Catholics in security jobs between 1990 and 1997.

Thursday 26 March 1998
item mark The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) published a Northern Ireland Office (NIO) document which had been leaked to the party. The document set out a detailed plan to try to obtain public support for any agreement reached during the multi-party talks at Stormont. Unionists attacked the document and claimed the government was using deceit and taxpayers money to manipulate public opinion. Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, defended the document and accused some of her own civil servants and the DUP of not wanting an agreement.
item mark Colin Duffy, then a Republican activist based in Armagh, accused the security forces of being behind a series of posters which appeared in the town. The posters bore the photograph of Duffy and part of the caption read: "This is north Armagh Republican terrorist Colin Duffy. If you see him in a Loyalist area contact the security forces or a leading Loyalist immediately." Duffy said that he felt that he was being set up for assassination.
item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), travelled to London for a meeting with Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister. The UUP insisted that the details of the meeting be kept private.

Friday 27 March 1998
item mark Cyril Stewart, a former member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) , was shot dead by Republican paramilitaries [believed to be the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)] at Dobbin Street in the centre of Armagh. He was shot dead after he left a local supermarket where he had been shopping with his wife. Stewart had left the RUC a few months prior to his shooting because of ill-health. Seamus Mallon, then Member of Parliament (MP) for Armagh and Newry, described the attack as an act of "absolute savagery".
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Sunday 29 March 1998
item mark A Catholic family were forced to leave their home in the Greymount area of north Belfast following a petrol-bomb attack by Loyalists in the early hours of the morning. The house was badly damaged in the attack. The family were the subject of a prolonged campaign of sectarian intimidation.
item mark The Sunday Telegraph (a British newspaper) published a report in which it claimed that a clandestine British Army unit called Force Research Unit (FRU) had links to Loyalist paramilitary groups. Although allegations about a similar unit known as Future Reaction Force (FRF) were made in 1992 (Dillon, 1992 ‘Stone Cold’) the report claimed that the unit was still operating in Northern Ireland. [Reports about the FRU were linked to Brian Nelson who was an intelligence officer for the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) but who was at the same time working for British Army intelligence. Nelson was given intelligence reports on Republicans which he passed on to the UDA who made plans to carry out assassinations. At the time of the Stevens inquiry (which began on 14 September 1989) the security forces stated that they acted to prevent over 200 assassinations. However the Sunday Telegraphy claimed a number of the assassinations went ahead although the security forces had knowledge of what was planned. It was believed that as many as 15 murders could have been prevented. Sinn Féin (SF) called for a independent judicial inquiry into the latest allegations.]
item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), travelled to Chequers for a private meeting with Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, about the final phase of the multi-party talks at Stormont.
item mark After years of controversy, the Irish Christian Brothers published a formal apology to all those in its care who had been mistreated. It invited all such people to seek help.

Tuesday 31 March 1998
UN Report Critical Of RUC
item mark A report by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights accused the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) of engaging in widespread intimidation of lawyers involved in defending Republican and Loyalist paramilitaries. The report also called for an independent investigation into the death (on 12 February 1989) of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane to determine whether any of the security forces had colluded with the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), in his killing.
item mark In the multi-party talks at Stormont the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) confirmed that it would like to see an Executive to head up the proposed Northern Ireland Assembly. This was in contrast to the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) position of arguing for a series of committees to deal with the major government departments. It was reported that Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, had drawn up a working paper on the structure and powers of planned cross-border bodies and presented the paper to the UUP for consideration.

April 1998

Wednesday 1 April 1998
item mark Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), travelled to London to meet with Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, to try to reach a common position on the key elements of any potential agreement. Despite hours of talks lasting late into the evening the two sides were unable to reach agreement. Ahern said that there were "large disagreements which could not be cloaked".
item mark The British government said that it would not order any inquiry into the killing (on 12 February 1989) of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.
item mark The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) agreed to the building of a new 'peaceline' in the White City area of north Belfast. There had been a high level of sectarian violence in the area.

Thursday 2 April 1998
item mark A car bomb, estimated at 1,000 pounds, was intercepted by the Garda Síochána (the Irish police) Emergency Response Unit at Dun Laoghaire ferry port close to Dublin. [It was thought that the bomb might have been destined for the Aintree Grand National horse race in England. It was believed that dissident Republicans were behind the attempted bombing.]

Friday 3 April 1998
item mark Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), travelled to London to meet with Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, for further talks on the Peace Process. This was their third meeting in three days.
item mark The Parades Commission ruled against allowing the Apprentice Boys of Derry to march down the mainly Catholic area of the lower Ormeau Road in Belfast on Easter Monday.
The second inquiry into the events surrounding 'Bloody Sunday' in Derry on 30 January 1972 was opened in the Guildhall in the city. The new inquiry was headed by an English Law Lord, Lord Saville, and the other two members of the panel were Edward Somers, a retired New Zealand judge, and William Hoyt, a judge from Canada.
item mark Rosemary Nelson, then a solicitor working in Lurgan, travelled to New York to inform United Nations (UN) officials and United States politicians about death threats to, and intimidation of, lawyers working in Northern Ireland. Nelson highlighted the allegations that Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers had made threats against lawyers, including herself, through their clients. [Nelson was assassinated on 15 March 1999 in Lurgan. The Red Hand Defenders (RHD), a Loyalist paramilitary group, claimed responsibility for the killing, but there were claims that the security forces had colluded with the killers.]

Saturday 4 April 1998
item mark George Mitchell, then Chairman of the multi-party talks at Stormont, delayed the delivery of his ‘blueprint’ document to those taking part in the talks. [The document was delivered on 6 April 1998.]
item mark The Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) held its annual conference in Belfast. John Alderdice, then leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI), called on the British and Irish Prime Ministers to take personal control of the final stage of the multi-party talks at Stormont.

Sunday 5 April 1998
item mark Julia Ahern, the mother of Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), died aged 87. Bertie Ahern, who was heavily involved with the multi-party talks at Stormont, had to leave the talks at various times to organise funeral arrangements and attend the service.

Monday 6 April 1998
item mark George Mitchell, then Chairman of the multi-party talks at Stormont, presented a draft settlement paper to the parties involved in the talks late in the evening. Mitchell appealed for the document not to be leaked: "Lives and deaths are at stake here". The paper had been delayed because of disagreement between the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) over how "consensus" decisions would be reached in the proposed Northern Ireland Assembly and also whether or not cross-border bodies would be accountable to the Assembly.
item mark Sinn Féin (SF) said that 12 people had resigned from the party over its decision to be involved in the multi-party talks. SF denied however that there had been large-scale resignations from the party. [Those people who had left the party claimed that they had been expelled to stop criticism of the party's leadership at the forthcoming Ard Fheis.]

Tuesday 7 April 1998
item mark The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) rejected the Mitchell draft settlement paper which had been presented to the parties on 6 April 1998. Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, travelled to Northern Ireland to be present during the final stages of the search for agreement. On arriving in Northern Ireland the Prime Minister said, 'I feel the hand of history upon our shoulder'. Blair held a two hour meeting with David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), at Hillsborough Castle, County Down.

Wednesday 8 April 1998
item mark Trevor Deeny (34), a former Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) prisoner, was shot dead by Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) gunmen in the Waterside area of Derry. It was the first 'Troubles' related killing in the city for almost four years.
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item mark Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, held a breakfast meeting with Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), at Hillsborough Castle, County Down, to co-ordinate their efforts to find agreement. [Bertie Ahern's also travelled to Dublin for the funeral of his mother before returning to Belfast to rejoin the talks.]

Thursday 9 April 1998
item mark At the parliament building in Stormont, Belfast, the multi-party talks continued all day and extended beyond the designated 12 midnight deadline. At 6pm David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), held a meeting to brief the UUP Executive which gave him its support. At 11pm there were angry exchanges between Loyalists in favour, and those against, the talks, as Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), led a march to the buildings in protest against the negotiations. Jeffery Donaldson, who had been a member of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) talks team left Stormont without comment amid rumours of a further split in the UUP over the proposed agreement.

Friday 10 April 1998
Good Friday Agreement
item mark After almost 30 years of violence and two years of intensive talks the Northern Ireland Peace Process reached a climax at 5.36pm when George Mitchell, then Chairman of the multi-party talks at Stormont, finally made the historic statement: "I am pleased to announce that the two governments and the political parties in Northern Ireland have reached agreement".
The Agreement exceeded Mitchell’s deadline by almost 18 hours, and it was clear that there were elements of the Agreement which did not suit each of the signatories. The main points of the Agreement were: a Northern Ireland Assembly with 108 seats, elected by proportional representation; a 12 member Executive committee of ministers to be elected by the Assembly; the setting up of a North-South Ministerial Council within one year by the Assembly; the council being accountable to Assembly and Daíl; amendments to Articles 2 and 3 of the Irish Constitution, to establish the principle of consent, and the repeal of the (British) Government of Ireland Act; a Council of the Isles with members drawn from assemblies in England, Scotland, Wales, Belfast and Dublin.
item mark Later it was learnt that Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America (USA), had made, and received, a number of telephone calls to party leaders in an effort to encourage them to reach a settlement.
item mark Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), was heckled by some Loyalists as he addressed the media at Stormont. The DUP and the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP), in addition to some leading members of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) led the opposition to the Agreement.

Saturday 11 April 1998
item mark In a "pro" vote, the Good Friday Agreement overcame its first test with 55 members of Ulster Unionist Party Executive voting for it and 23 voting against. [It had been anticipated that with so many of party’s Members of Parliament (MPs) against the Agreement (including William Ross and William Thompson), the vote would have been much closer.]
item mark Reaction to the Agreement from people and organisations around the world continued to be expressed. There was an overwhelming positive and welcoming response to the news of the Agreement at the multi-party talks in Belfast.

Sunday 12 April 1998
item mark At a series of Sinn Féin (SF) rallies in Ireland to commemorate the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916, speeches were delivered which appeared to give the Good Friday Agreement a cautious welcome. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a statement which said that it would judge the Agreement "against its potential to deliver a just and durable peace in our country". Republican Sinn Féin (RSF) called for a 'no' vote in the planned referendums on the Agreement.

Monday 13 April 1998
item mark Representatives of Sinn Féin (SF) said that they needed a "period of consultation" with their membership before they could sign the Good Friday Agreement. Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America (USA), said that he would visit Northern Ireland if it would help ensure the success of the Agreement. Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), launched a DUP campaign calling for people to reject the Agreement. William Thompson, then Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) MP, announced that he would be supporting the DUP campaign.

Tuesday 14 April 1998
item mark In the Republic of Ireland the Irish authorities released nine Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners from Portlaoise Prison. On their release the prisoners pledged their "total support" for the leadership of Sinn Féin (SF). [The releases were criticised by Unionists and by the Garda Representative Association.]

Wednesday 15 April 1998
item mark The Grand Orange Lodge, the ruling body of the Orange Order, decided not to support the Good Friday Agreement. While not rejecting the Agreement outright the members demanded clarification of a number of issues from British Prime Minister, Tony Blair before it would consider changing its position. [During the referendum campaign the Orange Order came out against the Agreement.]

Thursday 16 April 1998
item mark An opinion poll indicated that 73 per cent of people in Northern Ireland were in favour of the Good Friday Agreement.
item mark The British government gave the go-ahead for an "educational village" to be sited close to the 'peaceline' in Springvale, Belfast. The new campus is to be a joint initiative of the University of Ulster (UU) and the Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education (BIFHE) and is expected to cost £70 million.

Friday 17 April 1998
item mark Mark McNeill (32), a former member of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), was shot dead by two gunmen as he got out of his taxi on Shaw's Road in the west of Belfast. McNeill was a father of five. [It was believed that the attack was a "grudge killing" involving former INLA members and there was speculation that the killing may have been drugs-related.]
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item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), delivered a speech to the Northern Ireland Forum. Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, stated that the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) would not be disbanded and that only those prisoners whose organisations were on ceasefire would be release, on licence, from prison.

Saturday 18 April 1998
item mark The Ulster Unionist Council (UUC), the policy making body of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), gave the Good Friday Agreement a significant boost when delegates backed if by 540 to 210 (72 per cent). While this was a major boost to David Trimble, then leader of the UUP, six out of the 10 UUP Members of Parliament (MPs) opposed the Agreement.
item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), addressed the SF Ard Fheis in Dublin. During his address he informed delegates of the news of the UUP vote on the Agreement and said "Well done, David"; there was a round of applause from the delegates at the news. [Trimble later said this support by SF was a "poisoned chalice".] Later in his speech to delegates on the Agreement, and the negotiations that had preceded it, Adams gave a cautious response. In particular, he noted the concerns of many republicans with certain aspects of the Agreement such as the proposed new Northern Ireland Assembly. Adams recognised that Irish republicans still had "... an emotional ... political as well as constitutional block to participation in a Stormont parliament". At the same time however Adams went onto point out that if SF did not fully participate then the opportunity "... we have to make and implement policy on an all Ireland basis ... could be allocated to other parties". [In the end no definitive response on the Agreement was reached and it was agreed to reconvene the Ard Fheis on 10 May 1998 to deal with the issue.]

Monday 20 April 1998
item mark Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), said that his party aimed to secure a 40 per cent 'no' vote in the forthcoming referendum on the Good Friday Agreement. [The actual 'no' vote was 28.88%.]

Tuesday 21 April 1998
item mark Adrian Lamph (29), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) at the council yard where he worked in Portadown, County Armagh. Lamph was the first victim of the conflict since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. [He had lived on the Garvaghy Road in the mainly Protestant town of Portadown. He left a partner and a 2 year old son.]
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item mark The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) held the first of a series of anti-Agreement rallies in the run up to the referendum. The 32 County Sovereignty Committee issued a statement rejecting the Agreement as "fundamentally undemocratic, anti-Republican and unacceptable".
item mark The Celtic Tiger phenomenon continued with the Republic of Ireland being ranked 11th in a league table of the world’s 20 most competitive economies, ahead of both Japan and Britain.
item mark The Freedom of Information Act, which allows access to personal information held by public bodies, came into effect in the Republic of Ireland.
item mark In the light of the Good Friday Agreement the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) came under renewed pressure to remove the rule from its constitution which excluded members of the security forces in Northern Ireland from joining the organisation.

Wednesday 22 April 1998
item mark The Northern Ireland Parades Commission cancelled the publication of a crucial report on contentious parades after the personal intervention of Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister. Blair argued that it was too sensitive a time to publish the report which would have given an initial outline of the Commissions plans for dealing with contentious parades in the coming year. [The Parades Commission denied that Blair’s intervention amounted to political interference. Unionists were highly critical of the decision and called for the scrapping of the Commission.]
item mark The Irish parliament passed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution Bill which would allow for the necessary changes following the Good Friday Agreement. A ministerial order was also signed to allow for the referendum on 22 May 1998 which would ratify the proposed changes to the Irish Constitution.

Thursday 23 April 1998
item mark A 79 year old Catholic man living in the Nationalist New Lodge area of North Belfast was 'kneecapped' in his home. The man was tied up and beaten about the head before being shot in both knees and both ankles in a paramilitary style 'punishment' attack. [No organisation claimed responsibility for the incident but local people blamed the Irish Republican Army (IRA) for the attack. The man was the oldest person in Northern Ireland to be the subject of a 'punishment' shooting.]
item mark Five Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners, who were serving sentences in England, were transferred to Portlaoise Prison in the Republic of Ireland.
item mark Three members of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) shared a platform at the Ulster Hall in Belfast with Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), as part of a rally against the Good Friday Agreement. The three UUP members were: William Ross, William Thompson, and Roy Beggs. Also at the rally was Robert (Bob) McCartney, then leader of the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP), and also representatives of the Orange Order. Two Unionist members of the Parades Commission, Glen Barr and Tommy Cheevers, resigned from the organisation. The reason given for their decision was the level of media attention they had received since their original appointments to the Commission.
item mark The Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Irish Constitution began considering a proposal that Members of Parliament (MPs) elected in Northern Ireland should be entitled to sit in the Daíl. The committee also began considering the possibility of permitting Irish citizens living in the North to vote in presidential elections and referendums.

Friday 24 April 1998
Last Meeting Of Forum
item mark The Northern Ireland Forum held its final session as the body was wound up. Only 30 of the original 110 members attended the final session. [The Forum had held 71 plenary sessions since May 1996. Sinn Féin (SF) had never taken any of the 17 seats won by the party and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) withdrew its 24 members after 3 weeks of the operation of the Forum. The Forum then became a Unionist talking shop and was best known for infighting between the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). The DUP were also accused of making sexist remarks when addressing members of the Northern Ireland Women's Coalition (NIWC), in one instance telling them to "go home and breed for Ulster". The total cost of running the Forum was estimated at £7 million.]
item mark The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) issued a statement in support of the Good Friday Agreement saying that it would not lead to a united Ireland.

Saturday 25 April 1998
item mark Ciaran Heffron (22), a Catholic civilian, was killed by Loyalist paramilitaries as he walked through the village of Crumlin, County Antrim. Heffron, who was a student at the University of Ulster, was returning home after a night out with friends in the village. [Members of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) were blamed for the killing. It was claimed that those responsible for the killing had attended an anti-Agreement rally organised by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which had been held earlier in the nearby town of Antrim.]
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item mark Loyalist paramilitaries were believed to be responsible for a bomb attack on a Catholic owned bar / restaurant at Kilmore about 5 miles outside the city of Armagh. No one was injured in the attack.

Sunday 26 April 1998
item mark An Orange Order parade was banned from walking along the mainly Catholic lower Ormeau Road in Belfast. Those taking part in the parade held a protest meeting at the police line. The march passed off peacefully.
item mark Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), addressed a commemoration of the Easter Rising (which took place in 1916) in Dublin, and said that Britain had been "effectively ruled out of the equation" in regard to the future of Northern Ireland. The principle of consent, he said, was now the guiding factor in any future developments. [The remarks were thought to have given the 'No' campaign a boost.]

Monday 27 April 1998
item mark Sinn Féin (SF) representatives travelled to London to attend a meeting with Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, in Downing Street. Afterwards Gerry Adams, then President of SF, described the meeting as "constructive" and said that his party would "keep moving forward" in the search for peace in Northern Ireland.

Tuesday 28 April 1998
item mark It was confirmed that Chris Patten, a former Governor of Hong Kong, would chair the new Commission on the future role of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) had objected to the appointment of an "non British" person to head the Commission.

Wednesday 29 April 1998
item mark Further allegations were made that there had been collusion between the security forces and Loyalists in the killing of Pat Finucane on 12 February 1989.
item mark Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, then Northern Ireland Victims Commissioner, published his report, We Will Remember Them, on the victims of the conflict in Northern Ireland.
item mark The European Parliament welcomed a joint presentation on Northern Ireland from Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and David Andrews, then Irish Foreign Minister. The MEPs then listened in silence as Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), declared that: "Ulster people will not be bullied and will not be bribed".

Thursday 30 April 1998
item mark Dissident Republican paramilitaries were blamed for planting a car bomb (estimated at 600 pounds) in the centre of Lisburn, County Antrim. The British Army defused the device after a series of telephone warnings were received.
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a statement on the Good Friday Agreement and the issue of decommissioning. The IRA stated that the Agreement "falls short of presenting a solid basis for a lasting settlement" and went on to say: "Let us make it clear that there will be no decommissioning by the IRA".
item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), issued an ultimatum to those members of the UUP who publicly expressed opposition to the Agreement to follow the party position on the issue.

May 1998

Friday 1 May 1998
item mark Ronan MacLochlainn (28), a dissident Irish Republican Army (IRA) member, was shot dead when the Garda Síochána (the Irish police) foiled a raid by six armed men on a security van near Ashford, County Wicklow, Republic of Ireland. [The raid was thought to have been carried out by a new dissident Republican paramilitary group which was trying to raise funds to purchase arms. A group known as the "real" Irish Republican Army (rIRA) emerged on 7 May 1998.]
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item mark A 'Parades Forum', made up of over 60 business, community and civic leaders, held its first meeting in Derry in an attempt to find a solution to disputed parades in the city. However the Apprentice Boys of Derry (ABD), the Orange Order, the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) all boycotted the opening session. The ABD repeated their position that they would not talk to the Bogside Residents Group (BRG).
item mark The Orange Order called on its members (estimated at between 60,000 - 80,000) and supporters to vote 'No' in the forthcoming referendum.
item mark Seamus Heaney was appointed Saoi of Aosdana, the highest award Ireland can bestow on an artist. Mary McAleese, then President of the Republic of Ireland, described the poet as, "the single most important figure in modern Irish literature".

Saturday 2 May 1998
item mark Loyalist paramilitaries carried out a 'punishment' shooting attack on a 34 year old man in Forthriver Road in north Belfast. [It was claimed that 'mainstream Loyalists', who were supposed to be observing a ceasefire, were responsible for the shooting.]
item mark There were reports in local newspapers that a security force listening device had been planted in a house used by Gerry Kelly, then a senior Sinn Féin (SF) member.

Monday 4 May 1998
item mark A Republican paramilitary group carried out a mortar bomb attack on Grosvenor Road Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Station in Belfast. One of the home-made mortars did not reach its target and the other exploded in its launch tube. There were no reported injuries. The attack caused a delay and a re-routing of the Belfast marathon. [The attack was believed to have been carried out by the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA).] There was a bomb attack on the home of a former Sinn Féin (SF) councillor in Craigavon, County Armagh. [Although Loyalist paramilitaries were believed to have carried out the attack, no organisation claimed responsibility.] Two men were the victims of a Loyalist paramilitary 'punishment' shooting near Disraeli Street in the Shankill area of Belfast.
item mark Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), officially launched the Fianna Fáil (FF) campaign for a 'Yes' vote in the Republic of Ireland. John Bruton, then leader of Fine Gael (FG), called on political leaders, north and south, to step up their campaigns for a 'Yes' vote.

Tuesday 5 May 1998
item mark A group of Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners, known as the Balcombe Street gang, were transferred from England to Porflsoise Prison in the Republic of Ireland. To date the men had served 22 years and five months in English jails.
item mark The United Unionist Campaign (UUC) was launched in Belfast to oppose the Good Friday Agreement in the referendum. The group was made up of representatives of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP), and also dissident Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Members of Parliament (MPs). The UUC used the slogan: "It's Right to say No".

Wednesday 6 May 1998
item mark The Sinn Féin (SF) leadership confirmed its support for the Good Friday Agreement, recommending that members in both the North and the South should vote 'Yes' in the forthcoming referendum. It had been reported that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) had taken the decision to drop the ban on members of the Republican movement taking part in an assembly at Stormont. Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, and John Major, a former British Prime Minister, travelled to Northern Ireland to lend their support to the campaign for a 'Yes' vote in the referendum. Blair welcomed the news that SF had decided to support the Agreement. A majority of councillors in Ballymena District Council voted to support the Agreement. [Ballymena has been viewed as a stronghold of Paisleyism and some people had expected that the vote would go against the Agreement.]

Thursday 7 May 1998
"real" IRA
item mark It was confirmed that a new Republican paramilitary group had emerged. The group was mainly formed from dissident members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). [The media reported the name of the group as the "real" IRA (rIRA); the group was believed to refer to itself as Óglaigh na hÉireann. It was thought that the group had formed in November 1997.]
item mark The Northern Ireland (Elections) Act became law. The Act provided for the establishment of an Assembly at Stormont if the Agreement was approved in the forthcoming referendums. The British government announced that funding (estimated at £5 million) was to be made available for support schemes for victims of the conflict.

Friday 8 May 1998
item mark The "real" Irish Republican Army (rIRA) issued a statement saying that the organisation's ceasefire was over and military attacks would resume. In particular the group said that it had declared war on the British Cabinet.
item mark William Thompson, a Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Member of Parliament (MP), gave a radio interview in which he effectively called for the resignation of David Trimble, then leader of the UUP. Thompson was in turn attacked by John Taylor, then deputy leader of the UUP, who called on him to "do the decent thing" and resign.

Saturday 9 May 1998
item mark A dissident Republican paramilitary group carried out a mortar bomb attack (at 11.50pm) on the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) station in Belleek, County Fermanagh. The mortars fell short of their target and one exploded as the RUC were clearing the area. There were no injuries. [It was unclear whether the "real" Irish Republican Army (rIRA) or the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) had carried out the attack.]

Sunday 10 May 1998
SF End Abstentions

item mark At the party’s Ard Fheis in Dublin, Sinn Fein (SF) members voted to change their constitution to allow candidates to take their places in the proposed new Northern Ireland Assembly. Out of the 350 delegates present and eligible to vote, 331 voted in favour of a motion drafted by the Ard Comhairle (the ruling executive of SF) which would allow successful SF candidates to take up their seats in the new Northern Ireland Assembly. The party was addressed by Gerry Adams, then President of SF. [The removal of the policy of ‘abstentionism’ was a historical move which ended 77 years of refusing to participate in institutions of government in Northern Ireland.] A number of Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners were released from jails in the Republic of Ireland to attend the Ard Fheis. However, the scene of celebration that greeted the appearance of members of the 'Balcombe Street Siege gang' resulted in controversy and criticism from a wide circle of opinion.
item mark It was reported in the Sunday Tribune (a Republic of Ireland newspaper) that the membership of the "real" Irish Republican Army (rIRA) had grown to around 150 members. It was also claimed that the dissident group was being led by the former Quartermaster General of the IRA.

Monday 11 May 1998
item mark [Private opinion polls commissioned by the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) revealed that things were going badly for the 'Yes' campaign.]

Tuesday 12 May 1998
item mark The continuing divisions between Unionists in favour of the Good Friday Agreement and those against were evident in personal exchanges between Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). Trimble accused Paisley of "running away again" after Paisley pulled out of a scheduled television debate between the two men. The British government announced that Adam Ingram, then Northern Ireland Security Minister, would be given the extra responsibility of "minister for victims". This decision followed the report of the Victims Commissioner on 29 April 1998.
item mark The British government announced a £315 million economic package for Northern Ireland. Gordon Brown, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, travelled to Northern Ireland to make the announcement at a gathering of business people and politicians. Brown denied that the package was a bribe to entice voters to support the Good Friday Agreement.

Wednesday 13 May 1998
item mark An anti-Agreement rally was held in Newtownards, County Down. The rally was addressed by representatives of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and former Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) members.
item mark [The British government was forced to hand over all its private polling information on the forthcoming referendum to the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP). This followed a protest by Robert (Bob) McCartney, then leader of the UKUP, that the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) was informing the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) of its poll findings and thus giving the 'Yes' campaign an unfair advantage. News of the British decision was reported in the 'Sunday Tribune' (a Republic of Ireland newspaper) on 17 May 1998.]

Thursday 14 May 1998
item mark Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, paid another visit to Northern Ireland to continue campaigning for a 'Yes' vote in the referendum. During his visit he delivered a key note speech.

Friday 15 May 1998
LVF Ceasefire
item mark The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) announced an "unequivocal ceasefire" which the organisation hoped would encourage people to vote against the Good Friday Agreement. [The LVF was formed in 1996 from disaffected 'maverick' members of the mid-Ulster brigade of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). The organisation first came to prominence when it killed Michael McGoldrick (31), a Catholic civilian, who was shot dead outside Lurgan on 8 July 1996.]
item mark Despite attempts by Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, and David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), to win over Jeffrey Donaldson, then UUP Member of Parliament (MP), Donaldson confirmed that he would be voting 'No' in the forthcoming referendum on the Good Friday Agreement. The decision by Donaldson was seen as giving a significant boost to the 'No' campaign. Another poll confirmed that the main reason people were planning to vote 'No' was the planned release of paramilitary prisoners under the Agreement. The Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) held a 'Yes' rally in the Ulster Hall in Belfast. [Michael Stone, then a Loyalist prisoner serving a sentence for the murder of three people, was released from the Maze Prison to attend the rally. As in the case of the Sinn Féin (SF) Ard Fheis on 9 May 1998, the scene of celebration that greeted the appearance of Stone resulted in fresh controversy about the policy of releasing prisoners to appear at rallies.]

Saturday 16 May 1998
item mark Security forces defused a car bomb, estimated at 500 pounds, which had been left outside the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) station in Armagh. The bomb was discovered at 11.15pm and the area cleared before a warning was received at 11.30pm. [The RUC were unable to say which dissident Republican paramilitary group was responsible.] Larry OToole, then a prominent member of Sinn Féin, was shot and injured during a First Holy Communion church service for local children in Ballymun, Dublin. OToole's son, Lar, was also shot by the gunman who was chased out of the church and later caught by a number of the pursuers.
item mark There was a rally held in Lurgan, County Armagh, in support of the 'No' campaign. At the rally a message was read out from James Molyneaux, former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), who said that he would be voting against the Good Friday Agreement.

Sunday 17 May 1999
item mark Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, said there was no "plan B" if the Agreement was rejected in the referendum. Blair and Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America (USA), issued a joint statement urging people to recognise the opportunities offered by the Agreement and to vote 'Yes'.

Tuesday 19 May 1998
item mark John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), met on the stage at a U2 concert at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall. The concert had been arranged to support the 'Yes' campaign. [Bono, then lead singer with the group U2, joined the two party leaders on stage and held their arms aloft. This event was thought to have given the 'Yes' campaign a much needed boost. Until then the two party leaders had not campaigned together.]
item mark A 'pipe-bomb' contained in a parcel was delivered to the Dublin Tourist offices in St Andrew's Street, Dublin, Republic of Ireland. The device was spotted and defused. [An unknown Loyalist paramilitary group was thought to be responsible for the attack. Pipe-bombs were widely used by Loyalist paramilitaries over the coming years particularly in attacks on the homes of Catholic families in Northern Ireland.]

Wednesday 20 May 1998
Blair's Pledges
item mark Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, delivered a speech at the Coleraine campus of the University of Ulster in which he unveiled a hand-written set of pledges to the people of Northern Ireland in advance of the Referendum on 22 May 1998. The text of the pledges was as follows:
"I pledge to the people of Northern Ireland:

  • No change in the status of Northern Ireland without the express consent of the people of Northern Ireland.
  • Power to take decisions returned to a Northern Ireland Assembly, with accountable North/South co-operation.
  • Fairness and equality guaranteed for all.
  • Those who use or threaten violence excluded from the Government of Northern Ireland.
  • Prisoners kept in unless violence is given up for good.
Whatever the Referendum result, as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom I will continue to work for stability and prosperity for all the people of Northern Ireland."
item mark Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America (USA), sent a personal message to the people of Northern Ireland calling on them to vote 'Yes' in the forthcoming referendum.
In the final hours of campaigning David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), took part in a live television debate. The 10 minute encounter took place on the BBC's 'Newsline' programme. The debate was heated with Paisley accusing Trimble of being prepared to "break the union".

Friday 22 May 1998
Referendum on The Agreement
item mark There was a huge turnout throughout the island of Ireland as people in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland voted on the Good Friday Agreement (in the Republic there was a further vote on the Ratification of the Amsterdam Treaty). This was the first all-Ireland poll since the general election of 1918. It was clear from the number of people going to polling stations across Northern Ireland that there had been a high turnout (the figure was 81.10%). [When all the votes were counted the results were as follows: Northern Ireland - Yes 71.12%, No 28.88% (turnout 81.10%); Republic of Ireland - Yes 94.39%, No 5.61% (turnout 56.26%); Ireland overall - Yes 85.46%, No 14.54%. While it was not possible to break down the Northern Ireland figures by community an exit poll for the Sunday Times (a British newspaper) found that, of those questioned, the Agreement was supported by 96 per cent of Catholics and 55 per cent of Protestants.
item mark In the Republic of Ireland, the Amsterdam Treaty was ratified, with the results as follows: Yes 62%, No 38%.]

Saturday 23 May 1998
item mark Garda Síochána (the Irish police) arrested two men when they discovered bomb-making material in two cars near Dundalk.

25 May 1998
item mark Those responsible for the picket outside the Catholic church in Harryville, Ballymena, announced that they were calling a halt to the weekly Saturday evening protest. The protest had begun in September 1996 and policing costs were estimated at £2 million. The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) named Billy Hutchinson, then a Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) councillor, as its contact with the arms decommissioning body.
item mark According to British statistics more than 5,300 women with addresses in the Republic of Ireland had abortions in Britain during 1997. This is the highest figure on record; in 1987 the figure was 3,673.

Tuesday 26 May 1998
item mark The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) took the decision not to allow the anti-agreement MP, Jeffrey Donaldson, to stand for election to the new Northern Ireland Assembly. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) held a news conference in Belfast and said that the party would not set out to wreck the Assembly. At the conference Ian Paisley, then leader of the DUP, accused the Queen of being the "parrot" of Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister.

Wednesday 27 May 1998
item mark In the aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement the issue of the 'decommissioning' of paramilitary weapons began to dominate the political agenda. [Decommissioning was to prove a stumbling block to the full implementation of the Agreement and the issue was still causing problems in May 2000.]

Thursday 28 May 1998
item mark Martin McGuinness, then Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), held a meeting with Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Following the meeting McGuinness warned against "falling into the trap of trying to make decommissioning the most important item on the agenda".
item mark A concert featuring Elton John was held in the grounds of Stormont.

Friday 29 May 1998
item mark Details were released of the salaries that would be paid to members of the proposed Northern Ireland Assembly.

Saturday 30 May 1998
item mark There were disturbances on the Garvaghy Road in Portadown following a 'junior' Orange Order parade in the area. Nationalists from the Garvaghy Road threw petrol bombs at police lines, the police responded with plastic baton rounds. Several people were injured during the clashes. [Rioting continued in the area on the following evening.]
item mark The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) voted to retain 'Rule 21' which bans members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and British Army from joining the GAA. However, a motion was agreed which pledged the organisation to removing the rule when "effective steps are taken to implement the amended structures and policing arrangements envisaged in the British-Irish agreement." [The decision was strongly criticised by Unionist politicians in Northern Ireland.]

June 1998

Monday 1 June 1998
item mark Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, delivered a speech on the results of the referendum. David Alderdice, then an Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) councillor in Belfast, was elected as Lord Mayor of Belfast. In Derry the Nationalist controlled council elected a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Mayor and a Sinn Féin (SF) Deputy Mayor. [For many years in Derry the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) had adopted the policy of rotating the position of Mayor between Nationalist and Unionist parties.]

Tuesday 2 June 1998
item mark Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, addressed the Northern Ireland Police Federation. Her speech was interrupted by a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer protesting at the early release of paramilitary prisoners. Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, paid another visit to Northern Ireland and met with party leaders for discussions.

Wednesday 3 June 1998
item mark The Irish Times (a Republic of Ireland newspaper) carried a report on the death, due to cancer, of Robin Jackson on Saturday 30 May 1998. The report claimed that Jackson was the infamous Loyalist killer of the 1970s and 1980s known as 'The Jackal'. The report stated that he had been commander of the Mid-Ulster Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) from 1972 to the 1990s and had been responsible for the deaths of dozens of Catholic civilians. Jackson was also implicated in the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings in May 1974 which resulted in the deaths of 33 civilians.
item mark The British government issued a press release naming the members of the Independent Commission on Policing in Northern Ireland. [There were reports that both the Irish government and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) were upset that none of their preferred nominations for the Commission had been accepted by the British government.]

Thursday 4 June 1998
item mark The text of a Northern Ireland Office (NIO) memo on the run-up to the announcement of the Independent Commission on Policing was leaked to the press.

Friday 5 June 1998
item mark The British government published the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Bill.

Sunday 7 June 1998
item mark William Daley, then Commerce Secretary of the United States of America (USA), led a trade delegation of representatives of American companies to Northern Ireland.

Monday 8 June 1998
item mark The fact that the newly established Police Commission in Northern Ireland did not contain any of the people nominated by the Irish government, on behalf of Nationalists in Northern Ireland, was thought to have caused considerable difficulties between the two governments. A leaked memo indicated that Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, had personally contacted the Irish government, the White House, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), Sinn Féin (SF), and other interested parties to explain her decision and to seek agreement for it. [The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) was eventually called in to try to discover the source of the leak in the Northern Ireland Office (NIO). This was one of a number of leaks in the recent pass. Seamus Mallon, then deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), questioned the loyalty of the civil servants working for Mowlam.]

Tuesday 9 June 1998
item mark Sinn Féin (SF) held a press conference to display surveillance equipment, believed to belong to the British Army, found by a farmer from south Armagh on his land. The equipment was being used to monitor a house and a road junction in the area.
item mark Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced the names of two new members of the Parades Commission; William Martin and Barbara Erwin. The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) launched its Assembly election manifesto. David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), said that the UUP would not sit down with "unrepentant terrorists".

Wednesday 10 June 1998
item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and nine other Unionist and Conservative Members of Parliament (MPs) voted against the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Bill during the second reading of the Bill in the House of Commons. The proposed act was to allow for the early release of paramilitary prisoners as part of the Good Friday Agreement.
item mark In the Republic of Ireland the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) announced record breaking progress for the fourth consecutive year. Reports showed that the IDA had helped to create 15,000 new jobs.

Thursday 11 June 1998
item mark Three shots were fired at a Sinn Féin (SF) election worker in the Markets area of south Belfast. [Republicans claimed that the attack was carried out by "Group B" a remnant of the Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA). Residents reported increased friction in west and south Belfast between supporters of the Provisionals and Officials in recent weeks.]

Sunday 14 June 1998
item mark A Protestant family living in a stately home on the outskirts of Derry suffered a third petrol bomb attack. It was believed that Nationalist living in a nearby housing estate were responsible for the attacks.

Friday 19 June 1998
item mark In a debate in the House of Commons on the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Bill there were divisions over the issue of the release of paramilitary prisoners. David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and John Taylor, then deputy leader of the UUP, abstained from voting but six UUP Members of Parliament (MPs) voted against the bill along with Conservative MPs.

Monday 22 June 1998
item mark It was reported that Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), had said in an interview that he would be prepared to force the Drumcree march down the Garvaghy Road regardless of the decision of the Parades Commission. [Flanagan later said the remarks had been taken out of context.]

Tuesday 23 June 1998
item mark The "real" Irish Republican Army (rIRA) was thought to be responsible for an explosion at 2.30am which damaged a road near Forkhill in County Armagh. No one was hurt in the explosion which may have been targeted at the security forces.

Wednesday 24 June 1998
item mark A Republican paramilitary group exploded a car bomb, estimated at 200 pounds, in the centre of Newtownhamilton, County Armagh. A 50 minute warning about the bomb had been received but people were still being cleared when it exploded and six people, including a 15 year old boy, were injured. The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) claimed responsibility for the bomb. [Security sources believed that the "real" Irish Republican Army (rIRA) was involved in supplying the INLA with Semtex commercial explosive which was thought to have been used as a component in the bomb.]

Thursday 25 June 1998
Northern Ireland Assembly Election
item mark An election was held across Northern Ireland to chose representatives for the new Northern Ireland Assembly. The election was contested in the 18 parliamentary constituencies with six people being returned from each of the constituencies making a total of 108 members for the new Assembly. [When the votes were counted the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) marginally beat the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) in the number of first preference votes, but the UUP gained 4 more seats that the SDLP (28 seats as opposed to 24). The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) obtained 20 seats and Sinn Féin (SF) returned 18 candidates.]
item mark There were reports in the media that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was preparing to reveal the locations of the bodies of some of the people it had abducted and killed between 1972 and 1980. This followed a sustained campaign by relatives of the 'disappeared'. [Actual digging at the sites didn't start until late May 1999.]

Friday 26 June 1998
item mark As counting got under way in the Northern Ireland Assembly election the relatively poor early showing of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) resulted in the bitter divisions within the party becoming public. Jeffrey Donaldson, then UUP Member of Parliament (MP), who opposed the Good Friday Agreement accused his party colleague, Ken Maginnis, in a televised debate of "presiding over an electoral disaster". Maginnis replied by accusing Donaldson of "gloating over the difficulties that he and others like him" had created for the party. Both nationalist parties, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and Sinn Féin (SF), were pleased with a strong first preference showing.

Saturday 27 June 1998
item mark There were clashes between Nationalists and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in west Belfast during an Orange Order parade. Two men were killed and another seriously injured when a car ploughed into cyclists who were taking part in the Co-operation North Cross-Border mara-cycle. The vehicle involved did not stop at the scene of the accident. [The driver of the car was later arrested.]
item mark Counting in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections came to a close. [The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) emerged as the largest party with 28 seats. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) had 24, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) 20, Sinn Féin (SF) 18, Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) 5, the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP) 5, Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) 2, Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition (NIWC) 2, Independent Unionist 1, UU 1, and the UUU 1. In a major political breakthrough for the nationalist community, the SDLP emerged as the largest gainers of the first preference vote with 22%. They were followed by the UUP on 21.3%, the DUP on 18.1%, SF on 17.6%, Alliance on 6.5%, and Others on 14.5%.]

Monday 29 June 1998
item mark The Parades Commission announced that it would not permit the Drumcree march by the Orange Order to use the return route along the mainly Nationalist Garvaghy Road unless there was, what it termed, a "local agreement".
item mark The Secretary of State published a 'Decommissioning Scheme' [PDF File; 75KB] which made provision for the decommissioning of weapons by paramilitary groups.
item mark In a surprise development John Alderdice announced his resignation as leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI). [Alderdice made the move to allow him to stand as ‘Presiding Officer' (Speaker) of the new Northern Ireland Assembly. It later transpired that the post was originally to have gone to Seamus Close, then deputy leader of the APNI. The subsequent row was one of the few public disagreements that the APNI had engaged in.]

Tuesday 30 June 1998
item mark The British government announced the setting up of a trauma unit in Belfast to help young people and families affected by the conflict in Northern Ireland. Adam Ingram, then Security Minsiter, who had recently been given the 'minister for victims' portfolio made the announcement and said that a package of £700,000 had been allocated to the unit.

July 1998

Wednesday 1 July 1998
First Meeting of 'Shadow' Assembly
'First Minister Designate' and 'Deputy First Minister Designate' Elected

item mark All the political parties who had won seats during the Northern Ireland Assembly election took their places in the new Assembly chamber at Stormont. The Assembly met in 'shadow' form as powers had not yet been devolved. Those present included the parties, and candidates, who had opposed the Good Friday Agreement. [The event was televised live in Northern Ireland and many people found it almost surreal to see Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), sitting in the same debating chamber as Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF).]
During the first session on the new Northern Ireland Assembly David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), was elected 'First Minister Designate' of the new Assembly. Seamus Mallon, then deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), was elected 'Deputy First Minister Designate'.
item mark John Alderdice, formerly the leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI), was appointed as the ‘Presiding Officer Designate' (the Speaker) of the new Assembly.

Thursday 2 July 1998
10 Catholic Churches Attacked
item mark Loyalists, believed to be the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), carried out arson attacks on 10 Catholic churches in the east and the south of Northern Ireland. Some of the churches were destroyed while the rest were badly damaged. There were two petrol bomb attacks on Catholic homes in the Waterside area of Derry. Six elderly people had to be rescued from the two houses. There was an explosion on the Belfast to Dublin railway line near Newry, County Down. A telephone warning had been given and there were no injuries. The caller claimed to represent the 'south Down IRA'.
item mark The formalities of the setting up of the new Northern Ireland Assembly continued. Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, travelled to Belfast for a meeting with David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and First Minster designate, and Seamus Mallon, then deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and Deputy First Minster designate. The Prime Minister also visited the site of one of the churches destroyed in the sectarian attacks.

Friday 3 July 1998
item mark William Paul (41), a former member of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), was shot dead in what the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) believed was a drugs-related feud among former paramilitaries.
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item mark The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) issued a statement supporting the Orange Order's right to march down the Garvaghy Road in Portadown, County Down. Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), issued a statement backing the Garvaghy Road residents and called for the forthcoming march to be rerouted. Denis Bradley, a former Catholic priest, revealed that he had been one of a number of members of "The Contact" and had acted as a 'go-between' for MI6 and the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Bradley said that he had dealt with Frank Steele (then a member of the British diplomatic service) and Michael Oatley (who was referred to by Republicans as "The Mountain Climber"). The revelations were contained in a report in the Derry Journal newspaper.

Saturday 4 July 1998
item mark Private meetings were held to attempt to resolve the dispute over the forthcoming Orange Order parade from Drumcree to Portadown. However, the talks failed to produce a breakthrough in the dispute. [As no resolution had been achieved to the Drumcree dispute there was considerable tension in Northern Ireland. In fact many people had arranged to take their holidays to coincide with the Drumcree march.]

Sunday 5 July 1998
Drumcree Parade - 'Drumcree IV'
item mark For the fourth year in a row the Drumcree parade by the Portadown District Lodge of the Orange Order proved to be the focal point for divisions in Northern Ireland. The parade passed from the centre of Portadown, County Armagh, along the edge of a Nationalist area to the Church of Ireland parish church at Drumcree where the Orangemen attended a service. However, as the Orangemen attempted to walk back to the centre of Portadown, along the mainly Catholic Garvaghy Road, the route was blocked by the police and the British Army. A stand-off began. The decision to reroute the parade had been taken by the Parades Commission. As the day wore on the number of Orangemen protesting at Drumcree increased. The British government said that it would "hold the line" against those protesting at Drumcree. Throughout the day there were street protests across Northern Ireland by Loyalists in support of the Orange Order. A number of roads were blocked and some cars set on fire. A number of Catholic homes were also attacked in Belfast.

Monday 6 July 1998
item mark An estimated 10,000 people gathered through the early morning hours at Drumcree, Portadown, County Armagh, to protest at the decision not to allow the Orange Order parade to pass through the mainly Catholic Garvaghy Road area of Portadown. Violence flared in a number of Loyalist areas of Northern Ireland with the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) being fired at by Loyalist paramilitaries. A number of main roads across the region were blocked at different times during the day. [Most of the roads were reopened after a few hours but were blocked again at various times during the next few days.] item mark A number of Catholic families were the subject of violent attacks and intimidation. A Catholic family living in Coleraine, County Derry, were lucky to escape alive when their home was petrol bombed. A Catholic business in the town was badly damaged by Loyalists using petrol bombs. A Catholic home in Carrickfergus, Count Antrim, was attacked by a home-made bomb. The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) and a number of other 'fringe' Loyalist paramilitary groups were believed to be behind the attacks.
item mark The Parades Commission ruled that the Twelfth of July Orange Order 'feeder' parade would be allowed to proceed along the mainly Catholic Ormeau Road in Belfast on Monday 13 July 1998.

Tuesday 7 July 1998
item mark Violence continued in a number of areas of Loyalist areas of Northern Ireland. The tactic of blocking roads continued to be used, although most were reopened within a few hours. Up to 1,000 Orangemen blocked all the roads leading to the Catholic village of Dunloy, County Antrim. The County Antrim Grand Lodge said that its members had "taken up positions" and "held" the village for three hours. [Unlike in previous years the security forces kept open the road to the International airport at Aldergrove near Belfast.] Loyalists held a march in Portadown in support of the Orange Order. Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), addressed a rally in Portadown and said that the Twelfth of July would be "the settling day". [His use of this phrase was to draw criticism following the events of the early hours of 12 July 1998.]

Wednesday 8 July 1998
item mark The situation at Drumcree deteriorated considerably with sustained violent attacks on the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and British Army barricades by protesting Orange men. An estimated 5,000 Orangemen from county lodges in Derry and Tyrone joined the protest at Drumcree. Attacks against Catholic homes, businesses, schools, and churches continued to be a feature of Loyalist violence. Eight blast bombs were thrown at Catholic homes in the Collingwood area of Lurgan in the early hours of the morning.
item mark Seamus Mallon, then deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), went to the Garvaghy Road to speak to the local Residents Group. [Mallon was heckled by local residents as he left the meeting and looked to be shaken by the experience.] In a show of support Catholics from other areas of Northern Ireland sent food supplies to the residents of the Garvaghy Road.

Thursday 9 July 1998
item mark Orange Order demonstrators at Drumcree attempted to cross security force barriers. Security force members, who came under attack from guns and blast bombs, replied with plastic bullets.
Leaders of the Orange Order travelled to London for a meeting with Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, to discuss the situation in Portadown, County Armagh. Before the meeting . David McNarry, then a senior member of the Orange Order, said that they could "paralyse the country [Northern Ireland] in a matter of hours". His comments were made on the BBC Radio 4 programme Today. Following the meeting the Orange Order representatives said that there appeared to be little change in the government's attitude to the Drumcree issue.

Friday 10 July 1998
item mark A large section of the crowd taking part in the demonstration at Drumcree Church tried on several occasions to break through Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and British Army lines to get on to the Garvaghy Road. Soldiers of the First Parachute Regiment were deployed at Drumcree while troops from a Scottish regiment were withdrawn, no explanation was given for the change. There was continuing Loyalist violence across Northern Ireland with many roads blocked, and Catholic homes and businesses were again attacked. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) released figures which showed that between 6am on 4 July to 6am on 10 July there had been 1,867 public order offences across Northern Ireland. There had been 550 attacks on the security forces - including 15 shooting and 33 blast bomb attacks carried out by Loyalists, 53 RUC officers had been injured, 548 petrol bombs had been thrown, 1,910 petrol bombs recovered, 103 houses and 133 other buildings damaged, 136 cars hijacked, 367 vehicles damaged, and 151 people arrested. From 6am on 4 July to to 6am on 9 July the security forces had fired 216 plastic bullets.
item mark Garda Síochána (the Irish police) in Dublin and Dundalk and anti-terrorist police in England arrested nine people in a series of raids. The police claimed that those arrested were about to launch a fire-bombing campaign in London. It was alleged that those arrested were aligned with the 32 County Sovereignty Committee.

Saturday 11 July 1998
item mark Proximity (indirect) talks were held in Armagh between representatives of the Orange Order and the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition (GRRC). Jonathen Powell, then Chief of Staff at Downing Street, acted as the mediator between the two groups. The Orange Order maintained its position that it would not engage in face-to-face talks with the GRRC; there was no agreement between the two sides.
item mark The Tour de France began in Dublin. The tour was brought to Ireland because of the French link in the 1798 Rising by the United Irishmen. It represented the largest sporting event ever staged in Ireland.

Sunday 12 July 1998
Three Boys Killed at Ballymoney
item mark Three young Catholic boys, Richard (11), Mark (10), and Jason (9) Ouinn, were burnt to death after their home, in Ballymoney, County Antrim, was petrol bombed in a sectarian attack carried out by Loyalists. [It was later disclosed that members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) had been involved in the attack.] Christine Quinn the boys mother, her partner, Raymond Craig, and a family friend, Christina Archibald (18) escaped from the house but they and neighbours were unable to reach the three boys. Lee Ouinn (13), the oldest son, was staying with his grandmother when the incident occurred. [There was a general sense of shock when the news of the deaths broke and in the following days the incident was to have a major impact on the Orange Order protest at Drumcree. Although senior representatives of the Order tried to distance the organisation from the violence that had been almost continuous since the 5 July 1998, many commentators argued that the Orange Order had to accept some responsibility for the violence of its followers.]
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item mark William Bingham (Rev.), then Deputy Grand Chaplain of the Orange Order, called for the Drumcree protest to be ended and said that the 15 minute march down the Garvaghy Road would be "a hallow victory" as it would be taking place in the shadows of three little white coffins. item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and Robin Eames (Dr), then Church of Ireland Primate, also called for an end to the protest. item mark The Orange Order rejected these and other similar calls. [The protest at Drumcree declined following the Quinn deaths but a token protest was maintained during most of the year to July 1999.]

Monday 13 July 1998
item mark The Orange Order 'Twelfth' celebrations were held at centres across Northern Ireland (the parades were held on 13 July because the 12 July fell on a Sunday). item mark Catholic residents of the Lower Ormeau Road held a peaceful protest against an Orange parade through the area. item mark Joel Patton, then leader of the 'Spirit of Drumcree' group, verbally attacked William Bingham, then a chaplain in the Orange Order, and accused him of betraying the Orangemen of Portadown. item mark The number of people involved in the Drumcree stand-off decreased considerably following the extensive condemnation of the Orange Order’s response to the deaths of the Ouinn children in a sectarian attack in Ballymoney, County Antrim, on 12 July 1998.

Tuesday 14 July 1998
item mark The funeral took place of the three Quinn children in Rasharkin, County Antrim. There was a huge turnout for the funeral. The three boys were buried in a single grave. item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), criticised those people who were claiming that the attack was not sectarian. item mark There was also Nationalist anger at remarks made by Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), that "Republicans carried out far worse murders". item mark David Jones, then a spokesman for the Portadown Orange Order, accused the security forces and Loyalist paramilitaries of colluding to launch the petrol bomb attack on the Quinn home on 12 July. He claimed the aim of the security forces would have been to discredit the Orange Order.
item mark Three Orange Halls and a Protestant church were damaged in petrol bomb attacks.

Wednesday 15 July 1998
item mark The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) carried out a search of the 'field' at Drumcree where the Orange Order had been holding its protests. The RUC uncovered a home-made sub-machinegun, spent and live ammunition, a number of explosive devices, a five-gallon drum of petrol, two crossbows with over a dozen explosive-tipped darts.
item mark The British government introduced the Northern Ireland Bill into the House of Commons. The Bill was designed to implement the various provisions of the Good Friday Agreement.

Thursday 16 July 1998
item mark Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America (USA), made a pledge to the surviving Quinn brother, Lee (13), that he would do all he could to bring peace to Northern Ireland.

Friday 17 July 1998
item mark After 12 days of often violent protest the Orange Order conceded that it would not be able to force its way down the Garvaghy Road. The number of people taking part in the demonstrations at Drumcree had dropped from 10,000 to 1,500 since the death of the three Quinn children on 12 July 1998. Harold Gracey, the Portadown District Master, confirmed that only a token presence would be maintained at Drumcree church. [The token presence was maintained until July 1999.]
item mark Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, pledged that the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) would remain intact despite any review of its future.

Saturday 18 July 1998
item mark The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) released figures on the level of violence that had been associated with the Drumcree disturbances which showed that there had been a total of 2,561 public order offences, and 50 RUC families had been forced to leave their homes.

Sunday 19 July 1998
item mark Andrew Kearney (33), a Catholic civilian, died shortly after being shot in the legs by Republican paramilitaries, outside his girlfriends flat in the New Lodge area of Belfast. [No organisation claimed responsibility but the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) believed that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was responsible for the shooting.]
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item mark There was a mortar attack on the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) base in Newry, County Armagh. The "real" Irish Republican Army (rIRA) claimed responsibility for the attack.

Thursday 23 July 1998
item mark The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) estimated that the disturbances surrounding the Drumcree parade had resulted in damage to property of £3 million. [The estimate for 1997 was £10 million and 1996 £20 million.] There was a demonstration in London as part of the campaign to secure the release of two Scots Guardsmen who had been sentenced for the murder of Peter McBride (18), a Catholic civilian, in Belfast on 4 September 1992. Among those taking part in the demonstration were Martin Bell, then Member of Parliament (MP), and Lord Tebbit, former Conservative Party cabinet member.

Friday 24 July 1998
item mark The Police (Northern Ireland) Act was passed in the House of Commons.
item mark It was announced in the Republic of Ireland that 1997 had been a record year for Irish tax revenue earnings reflecting the buoyant nature of the Irish economy.
item mark In a ruling on the conduct of the new inquiry into the events of ‘Bloody Sunday’ the chairman Lord Saville said that soldiers giving evidence would be entitled to "partial anonymity".

Monday 27 July 1998
item mark Two brothers, both Catholic civilians, were shot and wounded in a Loyalist attack in Derry.
Bernadete Sands-McKevitt, sister of Bobby Sands and member of the 32 County Sovereignty Committee, said that the use of physical force by Republicans would not end until British rule in Ireland ended.

Tuesday 28 July 1998
item mark The Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act became law. The legislation allowed for the early release of paramilitary prisoners. Only prisoners who were members of organisations that were observing ceasefires could benefit from the legislation. Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, declared that the Irish Republican Army (IRA), Ulster Defence Association (UDA), and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), were inactive. [There was criticism of this decision by those who highlighted continuing violence by these organisations.]
item mark Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), announced that the Union Flag would not be flown outside RUC stations on public holidays. Flanagan said that this would bring RUC policy on the matter into line with the rest of the United Kingdom (UK). [Some Unionists reacted angrily to the announcement.]
item mark As part of a government reshuffle of ministerial posts, John McFall replaced Tony Worthington at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO).

Wednesday 29 July 1998
item mark Rhonda Paisley daughter of Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), was awarded £24,249 by Northern Ireland’s Fair Employment Tribunal. It ruled that she had bean discriminated against after being turned down for the post of Arts Co-operation Officer.

Thursday 30 July 1998
item mark There was a series of fire-bomb attacks on shops in Portadown, County Armagh. Republican dissidents were believed to be responsible.
item mark The government released the names of the ten members of the Commission dealing with releases of paramilitary prisoners. The joint chairpersons were John Blelloch, formerly a Northern Ireland Office (NIO) permanent secretary, and Brian Currin, then a South African lawyer.

August 1998

Saturday 1 August 1998
item mark Thirty-three civilians and two members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) were injured when a car bomb, estimated at 500 pounds, exploded in Banbridge, County Down. Extensive damage was also caused in the explosion that was later claimed by the "real" Irish Republican Army (rIRA).
item mark The government in the Republic of Ireland took the decision to release six Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners from Portlaoise Prison. [Unionists reacted angrily to the announcement.]

Monday 3 August 1998
item mark In the first break-through of its kind, Nationalists and Loyalists in Derry reached an agreement over the Apprentice Boys march in the city planned for 8 August 1999. The agreement came after three days of shuttle (indirect) negotiations between the parties. [However, there were some minor disturbances following the march.]

Tuesday 4 August 1998
item mark Dissident Republicans carried out an attack on a police patrol outside an Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) station in Lurgan, County Armagh.

Thursday 6 August 1998
item mark Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said that she believed that the "war is over". [This was said in response to Unionist demands that Sinn Féin (SF) and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) should state publicly that the conflict had ended.]
item mark Thomas McMahon, who had been convicted of the murder of Lord Mountbatten and three other people in 1979, was released from jail in the Republic of Ireland. [The release drew criticism from Unionists in Northern Ireland.]

Friday 7 August 1998
item mark It was announced that the unemployment rate in the Republic of Ireland was now 9.1 per cent which was lower than that of Germany, France or even the EU average. The rate was the lowest for 15 years and demonstrated the continuing strength of the Irish economy.

Saturday 8 August 1998
item mark The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) issued a statement which stated that as far as the grouping was concerned the "war is over". [Many people expressed doubts about the real intentions of the LVF.] This was a follow-up to the announcement of a ceasefire on 15 May 1998. It was thought that the statement was a response to the fact that LVF prisoners had not been included on the list of those eligible for release that was presented on 28 July 1998. Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), told a meeting in west Belfast that he would not be pressured into uttering the words "the war is over" to satisfy Unionists.
item mark There were disturbances in Derry following the annual Apprentice Boys of Derry parade.

Thursday 13 August 1998
item mark Mitchel McLaughlin, then National Chairperson of Sinn Féin (SF), issued a statement urging anyone with information about any of the ‘missing persons’ who disappeared during the course of the conflict to make that information available. [This statement was seen by many as having come about because of pressure on SF by relatives of people who had been abducted and never seen again.]

Saturday 15 August 1998
The Omagh Bomb
item mark Twenty-nine people died as a result of an explosion at 3.10 pm in Omagh, County Tyrone. The bomb had been planted by the "real" Irish Republican Army (rIRA). The death toll represented the single worst incident within Northern Ireland since the beginning of the conflict. [33 people were killed in bombs in Dublin and Monaghan on 17 May 1974.] Among the dead were family members, one family lost members from three generations, and close friends, and a number of tourists from the Republic of Ireland and Spain. One woman who died was pregnant with twins. There were hundreds of people injured some of whom lost limbs or their sight. [28 people died on the day and an injured man died three weeks later. Another man was killed when the car he was driving was involved in a collision with an ambulance that was transporting injured people to a hospital in Belfast.]
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item mark It was later learnt that there had been a misleading phone warning and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) directed people towards the bomb rather than away from it. [The code word used was that of the rIRA, a breakaway group of dissident members from the Provisional IRA who disagreed with the political direction being taken by the Sinn Féin leadership. There was outrage and shock across the whole population of Northern Ireland. Many people expressed the hope that this incident would mark a turning point in the conflict.]

Sunday 16 August 1998
item mark The 32-County Sovereignty Committee issued a statement denying that the organisation was associated with those responsible for the Omagh bombing.

Monday 17 August 1998
item mark The Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) issued a statement calling upon the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) to announce a ceasefire. The IRSP said that it felt, in the light of the Omagh bombing, that the ‘armed struggle’ could no longer be justified. The IRSP also felt that the INLA would call a ceasefire in the near future.

Tuesday 18 August 1998
item mark "real" IRA Suspension of Military Actions
The "real" Irish Republican Army (rIRA) announced that "all military operations have been suspended". The announcement came in a telephone call to the Irish News, a Northern Ireland newspaper, at 11.35 pm and the ‘suspension’ took effect from midnight. Earlier in the day the rIRA had contacted the Dublin office of the Irish News and stated that the organisation was responsible for the Omagh bombing but denied that it had deliberately set out to kill people. During the day people all over Ireland were still coming to terms with the death toll in the Omagh bomb as the first of the funerals took place. Funerals continued for the rest of the week.

Wednesday 19 August 1998
item mark Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), announced his governments intention to introduce tough anti-terrorist measures. The proposals would include seizure of land or other property which has been used for storing weapons or making bombs. In addition it was announced that a suspect’s right to silence would be withdrawn. Ahern admitted that the measures could be described as "draconian".

Saturday 22 August 1998
item mark INLA Ceasefire
The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) announced that it was to go on ceasefire as from midday. [In terms of size the INLA was the second largest of the Republican paramilitary organisations. There were calls for the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) to also announce a ceasefire.]
item mark The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) announced that it intended to establish a trust fund for the victims of the Omagh bombing.

Sunday 23 August 1998 ?
item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), travelled to Portadown for a meeting with local representatives of the Orange Order about the continuing protest at Drumcree. Trimble was called a "traitor" by Loyalists as he entered the meeting.

Sunday 23 August 1998
item mark Christopher McWilliams, then Officer Commanding (OC) the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) in the Maze Prison, declared that the "war is over".

Tuesday 25 August 1998
item mark It was confirmed that both the Daíl and the House of Commons were to be recalled the following week to enact emergency legislation to deal with those paramilitary organisations which continued with violence.

Wednesday 26 August 1998
Blair Visits Omagh
item mark Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, paid a visit to the site of the bomb in Omagh, County Tyrone. Blair promised draconian legislation to deal with any paramilitary groups that refused to call a ceasefire. Sinn Féin (SF) said the new measures would amount to "internment in another guise".

Thursday 27 August 1998
item mark Fruit of the Loom, then Ireland’s largest clothing manufacturer, which employed almost 3,500 people in its plants in Donegal and Derry, announced that it is examining the possibility of moving its T-shirt operations, currently located in Buncrana, County Donegal, to Morocco. Two of the company’s Irish-based directors resigned amidst claims that more than 1,000 jobs could be lost.

Friday 28 August 1998
item mark The minutes of a meeting on 6 August between Adam Ingram, then Security Minister at the NIO, and the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Assembly Group, were leaked. At the meeting the UUP were reported as saying there would be "no chance" of an Executive being formed without decommissioning of Irish Republican Army (IRA) weapons.
item mark The "real" Irish Republican Army (rIRA) stated that it believed that a continuation of its campaign was futile "in the circumstances of Omagh and the Mitchell agreement". The rIRA indicated that a ceasefire would be called. [The rIRA announced a ceasefire on 7 September 1998.]
item mark Elaine Moore from Dublin, who had been arrested on conspiracy charges in London, was freed on bail from Holloway Prison.

Sunday 30 August 1998
item mark An Irish Republican Army (IRA) spokesman is reported as saying that the 'real' IRA "should disband and they should do so sooner rather than later".

Monday 31 August 1998
item mark The government in the Republic of Ireland published the Offences Against The State (Amendment) Bill providing for curtailment of the right to silence, longer detention periods and five new offences, including "direction of terrorism".

September 1998

Tuesday 1 September 1998
item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), announced in a statement that: "Sinn Féin believe the violence we have seen must be for all of us now a thing of the past, over, done with and gone." David Trimble in his role as First Minister Designate, invited Gerry Adams to a round-table meeting. [These developments came in advance of the arrival of Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America (USA), on a visit to Northern Ireland on 3 September 1998.]
item mark In an interview the Irish Republican Army (IRA) said that it would not decommission its weapons and claimed that Unionists were using the issue to try to re-negotiate the Good Friday Agreement. The interview was given to 'An Phoblacht / Republican News' and was published in full on Thursday 3 September 1998 in the paper. In addition the IRA said that it would do all in its power to help the relatives of people who had disappeared during the conflict.
item mark John Bruton, then leader of Fine Gael (FG), said the statement by the IRA on decommissioning made it unthinkable that politicians associated with it could take part in an Executive.
item mark The Garda Síochána (the Irish police) established a special unit to investigate malicious calls to the families of two young Buncrana boys killed in the Omagh bombing.

Wednesday 2 September 1998
item mark The two Scots Guardsmen convicted of the murder of Peter McBride (18) in Belfast on 4 September 1992 were freed from prison. McBride's family said they were devastated by the decision.
item mark Ms Hillary Clinton, wife of the US President, arrived in Belfast to address a 'Vital Voices, Women In Democracy' conference.
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) was reported as having issued a warning to the "real" IRA (rIRA) that it should disband "sooner rather than later". The IRA also threatened action against members of the 32 County Sovereignty Committee.

Thursday 3 September 1998
Clinton Visit to Northern Ireland; New Emergency Legislation
item mark Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America, paid his second visit to Northern Ireland. Clinton delivered his keynote address at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast. [Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, also delivered a speech, as did David Trimble and Seamus Mallon.] Clinton spent most of the day in Northern Ireland before travelling to the Republic of Ireland where he spent the next two days. Bill Clinton was accompanied by the First Lady Hillary Clinton. Following his speech at the Waterfront Hall the president attended the 'turning of the sod' ceremony for the Springvale campus of the University of Ulster. Clinton then travelled to the site of the Omagh Bombing and spoke to survivors and relatives of the dead.
item mark At the House of Commons the Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Bill, was passed despite grave reservations by some Members of Parliament (MPs) that the measures were being rushed through without adequate debate. In the Republic of Ireland the Offences Against The State (Amendment) Bill passed into law after it was signed by the Presidential Commission. Although civil liberties groups warned that it was a bad law the bill met little opposition in the Dáil or the Seanad. The Irish government did however agree to an annual review of the legislation.
item mark Roy Bradford, a veteran Unionist politician who had served in the 1974 Executive died at the age of 78.

Saturday 5 September 1998
item mark Seán McGrath (61) who had been injured in the Omagh bombing on 15 August 1998, died as a result of his injuries bringing the total of those killed to 29.
item mark David Trimble, then First Minister designate and leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), repeated his view that decommissioning of Irish Republican Army (IRA) weapons was necessary before the UUP would enter an Executive with Sinn Féin (SF). Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), said that there was nothing in the Good Friday Agreement that prevented the immediate establishment of an Executive which would include SF members as of right.
President Clinton left Ireland from Shannon Airport after what he considered to be a successful visit. The President was conferred with the Freedom of Limerick and in his acceptance speech he said the United States would support Irish people in the path to peace. Earlier in the day he had played a round of golf at Ballybunnion in Kerry with, amongst others, Dick Spring, the former Tánaiste (deputy Irish Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs).

Monday 7 September 1998
item mark "real" IRA Announce Ceasefire
The "real" Irish Republican Army (rIRA) announced a "complete cessation" of its campaign of violence. [The announcement came after weeks of intense pressure on the group in the wake of the Omagh bombing. The only remaining Republican grouping that had not called a ceasefire was the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA).] Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), called on the CIRA to state its position or face the full rigours of the law.
item mark A Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer was critically injured when a blast bomb was thrown at him as he policed an Orange Order / 'Loyalist Right to March' demonstration at Drumcree, County Armagh. Two Catholic-owned businesses were also destroyed in petrol bomb attacks.

Thursday 10 September 1998
Meeting Between Trimble and Adams

item mark David Trimble, then First Minister designate and leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), held his first face-to-face meeting with Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF). The meeting took place in private at Stormont, Belfast. Both men later described the meeting as cordial and businesslike. Adams said: "He is a man I can do business with" but repeated his position that he could not deliver on decommissioning. [This was the first meeting between SF and a Unionist leader since the formation of Northern Ireland.] Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), announced that British army patrols in Belfast would cease from the weekend because of the reduced threat from paramilitaries.

Friday 11 September 1998
item mark First Paramilitary Prisoners Released Under Agreement
The first of the paramilitary prisoners were released from jails in Northern Ireland under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. Seven prisoners, including three Republican and three Loyalist, were released in a programme that was expected to take two years to complete.
item mark Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), told Chris Patten, then chairman of the Commission reviewing the future of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), that major reform of the force was necessary if the force was to become acceptable to both communities in Northern Ireland. Ahern made his comments during a meeting with Patten at Government buildings in Dublin.

Monday 14 September 1998
item mark The Northern Ireland Assembly met for the first time since July 1998. David Trimble, then First Minister designate, said that the issue of decommissioning remained an obstacle to the establishment of the Northern Ireland Executive. The formation of the Executive was postponed. [The executive was established on 29 November 1999.] Trimble also said that the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) could not take part in the Executive in a selective fashion. Two former members of the UUP and an Independent Unionist joined together to form the United Unionist Assembly Party (UUAP).

Saturday 19 September 1998
item mark Gerry Kelly, a senior member of Sinn Féin (SF), warned of a looming crisis in the peace process if Unionists insisted that prior disarmament was the "bottom line" before SF would be allowed to enter an Executive. Kelly said Unionists were "generating unrealisable expectations" that decommissioning was about to happen.

Monday 21 September 1998
item mark Members of the Garda Síochána (the Irish police) and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) detained 12 men as part of their investigation into the Omagh bombing. Six were arrested in south Armagh, six in north Louth, Republic of Ireland.
item mark Jeffrey Donaldson, then a Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Member of Parliament (MP) and a critic of the Agreement, said that David Trimble, then First Minister designate, had mentioned in several private meetings the possibility of his resignation over the issue of decommissioning. Trimble said that he had never made such a threat.

Tuesday 22 September 1998
item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), travelled to Dublin for a meeting with Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister). The main item on the agenda was the issue of the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons. There was growing tension in recent days over this issue. Trimble supported a call by Ahern for the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to set out a timetable for decommissioning. Later Trimble said that he wanted to know when the IRA would decommission and stated: "we want to see it begin in a credible way".

Wednesday 23 September 1998
item mark There was disagreement between Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), and David Trimble, then First Minister designate, over the issue of decommissioning. Adams said that Irish Republican Army (IRA) decommissioning was not within SF’s gift and accused Trimble of trying to impose conditions on SF’s entry into the Executive and trying to renegotiate the Agreement.

Thursday 24 September 1998
item mark There was disagreement between David Trimble, then First Minister designate, and Seamus Mallon, Deputy First Minister designate, over the establishment of the North-South Ministerial Council. Trimble said that the inaugural meeting of the new body should take place within weeks. However, Mallon said that he would not agree to such a move until the "shadow" Executive was set up first.

Friday 25 September 1998
item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and Seamus Mallon, then deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), became involved in a disagreement over the timing of the establishment of a shadow Executive. Mallon stated that the issue of decommissioning had "almost become a soap opera".

Wednesday 30 September 1998
item mark Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), announced that a number of British Army installations and check-points were to be demolished. There was a further series of releases under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
item mark Seamus Mallon, then deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), addressed a meeting of the of the Labour Party conference in Blackpool, England. Mallon, while acknowledging that there was no pre-condition to Sinn Féin's (SF) entry into an Executive, nevertheless called on the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to make a confidence building gesture. Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), also addressed the meeting and stated that the row over decommissioning had the potential to wreck the Good Friday Agreement.

October 1998

Friday 2 October 1998
item mark During a visit to Northern Ireland Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa said that politicians would have to answer to the people if the peace process was allowed to stall.

Tuesday 6 October 1998
item mark Frankie O'Reilly (30), a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer, died as a result of injuries he received on 7 September 1998. O'Reilly was critically injured by a blast bomb thrown by Loyalists taking part in a Drumcree protest at Portadown, County Armagh. The attack was claimed by the Red Hand Defenders (RHD) a Loyalist paramilitary grouping that was believed to have been formed a short time before the incident. Davy Jones, then a Orange Order spokesperson, said that the cost of upholding civil liberties [on behalf of the Orange Order] "can be very high".
death button

Friday 9 October 1998
item mark Members of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) opposed to the Good Friday Agreement set up the 'Union First' pressure group within the party.

Saturday 10 October 1998
item mark Martin McGuinness, the Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), travelled to Dublin for a meeting with Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister). The meeting failed to provide any progress on the issue of decommissioning.
item mark An Appeal court in the United States of America (USA) overturned a decision to extradite back to Northern Ireland three men who had escaped from the Maze prison. Billy Hutchinson, then a spokesman for the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), said that the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and the Red Hand Commandos (RHC) were not ready to decommission their weapons even if the Irish Republican Army (IRA) did begin to had over arms.

Monday 12 October 1998
item mark It was announced that the Pope would pay a visit to Ireland.

Saturday 17 October 1998
item mark It was announced that the Nobel Prize for Peace would be awarded jointly to John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP).

Monday 19 October 1998
item mark Both David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and First Minister designate, and Martin McGuinness, then Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), travelled to London for separate meetings with Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister. Trimble told the Prime Minister that SF should not be given seats on the Executive without prior decommissioning of weapons. Both McGuinness and Trimble blamed the other for the impasse over decommissioning.

Tuesday 20 October 1998
item mark Three members of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) were given life sentences for the murder of Billy Wright, who had been the leader of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), in the Maze Prison on 27 December 1997.
item mark Robert Eames, then Church of Ireland Primate, called upon Portadown Orangemen to honour three pledges, relating to respecting the law and the church, before they would be welcomed at Sunday service in Drumcree in July 1999.

Wednesday 21 October 1998
item mark Adam Ingram, then Security Minister at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), stated in the House of Commons that there had been 54 people killed as a result of the conflict in the period 1 January 1998 to 16 October 1998. 38 of the deaths were the responsibility of Republican paramilitaries and 16 by Loyalist paramilitaries.

Friday 23 October 1998
item mark Davy Jones, then a Orange Order spokesperson, was suspended by Dennis Watson, then Grand Master of Armagh, for "breaching Orange protocol". [The suspension was lifted the following day.]

Saturday 24 October 1998
item mark David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), delivered a speech to the Annual Conference of the UUP. Trimble repeated his view that Sinn Féin (SF) members could not become part of an Executive before decommissioning by the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

Monday 26 October 1998
item mark Hew Pike (Sir), then a Lieutenant-General in the British Army, became the commanding officer of the army in Northern Ireland. Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), announced that Whiterock army base in west Belfast would close.
item mark Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), said that there was no chance of the North-South Ministerial Council being established before the 31 October 1998 deadline. David Trimble, then First Minister designate, said that the 31 October was not an absolute deadline. Martin McGuinness, the Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), accused Unionists of trying to rewrite the Good Friday Agreement. In a book of memoirs Conor Cruise O'Brien said that Unionists may one day have to negotiate entry into a United Ireland. [Following the revelation of the book's content O'Brien felt obliged to resigned from the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP).]

Wednesday 28 October 1998
item mark It became apparent that Donegal Celtic, a Catholic soccer team based in west Belfast, would be playing an Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) team in a local cup competition. Sinn Féin (SF) called on Donegal Celtic to pull out of the match. [Following pressure on the team it reluctantly agreed to drop out of the competition.]

Saturday 31 October 1998
Deadline for Formation of Executive
item mark The deadline was missed for the formation of the Executive Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and the North-South Ministerial Body. The main reasons for the failure to implement the Good Friday Agreement were to do with disagreements on the issue of decommissioning.
item mark Brain Service (35), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by Loyalists after he left his brother's house in north Belfast. Service was a single man from Ardoyne in Belfast. [The Red Hand Defenders (RHD) later claimed responsibility for the killing. The RHD were a new Loyalist paramilitary grouping comprising dissent Loyalists opposed to the Good Friday Agreement and opposed to the ceasefires of the main Loyalist paramilitary organisations.]
death button
item mark In a joint statement the First, and Deputy First, Ministers pledged that the killing would not derail the peace process.

November 1998

Monday 2 November 1998
item mark Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), became the first Taoiseach in over 30 years to visit Stormont. Ahern was there to discuss the North-South Ministerial Council.

Wednesday 4 November 1998
item mark The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) revealed that there had been an estimated 1,000 punishment attacks since September 1994.
item mark A British Army Review Board decide that the two Scots Guards, who had been convicted of the murder of Peter McBride (18), a Catholic civilian, in Belfast on 4 September 1992, could rejoin their regiment.

Tuesday 10 November 1998
item mark A delegation from Sinn Féin (SF) travelled to London for talks with Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, about what they saw as the stalled peace process.
item mark On his first official visit to the Republic, the Duke of Edinburgh referred to "these rather artificial divisions between North and South". [The visit was seen as an attempt to normalise relationships between the Republic of Ireland and Britain and was believed to path the way for a visit by the Queen at some future date.]

Wednesday 11 November 1998
item mark The announcement that the Maze prison in County Antrim would close by the year 2000 if the Good Friday Agreement was fully implemented was greeted by anger by many Unionists. [The closure of the Maze would have a large impact on security related jobs which are almost entirely held by Protestants.] Joel Patton, then spokesman for the 'Spirit of Drumcree' group, was expelled from the Orange Order because of his outspoken criticism of William Bingham in July.
item mark Mary McAleese, then President of the Republic of Ireland, joined with Queen Elizabeth of England and King Albert of Belgium, at a ceremony in the Belgian village of Mesen (Messines Ridge) to commemorate the estimated 50,000 Irishmen (from north and south) who died during the first World War. The ceremony also marked the official opening of a peace tower (modelled on an Irish round tower) built by young people from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Friday 13 November 1998
item mark The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) announced that it was willing to decommission some of its weapons if the Irish Republican Army (IRA) matched their gesture on a ratio of ten IRA weapons for every LVF weapon. It was announced that a further 400 British soldiers would be withdrawn from Northern Ireland.
item mark Seamus Mallon, then deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), delivered a speech to the Annual Conference of the SDLP.

Saturday 14 November 1998
item mark John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), addressed the annual SDLP conference and said Unionists and Nationalists had at last taken their future into their hands and seized control of their history, rather than history controlling them. [During the conference the SDLP said it would help to remove Sinn Féin (SF) from the Executive if the Irish Republican Army (IRA) failed to decommission within the specified time-scale. The party also said it would not support any attempt by Unionists to rewrite the Good Friday Agreement.]

Tuesday 17 November 1998
item mark The government accepted that the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) ceasefire was genuine thus making it possible for LVF prisoners to be considered for early release.
item mark The Irish Times (a Republic of Ireland newspaper) published an article claiming that preliminary drafts of the Independent Commission report on the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) had recommended that the existing membership of the police should be made to resign and reapply to join a newly constituted police service. The article also said that the draft report had recommend that all symbols seen as partisan, including the flying of the Union flag, the hanging of Queen Elizabeth's picture and the force's current insignia, should be dropped. Chris Patten, then Chairman of the Commission on the RUC, denied that there was a preliminary report on the RUC. item mark The newspaper also carried an article by Robert (Bob) McCartney, then leader of the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP), on the issue of decommissioning.

Wednesday 18 November 1998
item mark Michael McGimpsey, then Security Spokesperson of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), warned that the Good Friday Agreement could collapse if there were moves to disband the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). [This statement followed reports in the Irish Times on 17 November 1998 that the Commission on the RUC would recommend members having to reapply to a new police service.]

Thursday 19 November 1998
item mark A spokesperson on behalf of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) said that the group had decided to postpone the handover of (some) weapons. The reason given was the remarks made by Ken Maginness, Security Spokesman of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), when he called the LVF "ruthless" and "sectarian killers".
item mark The Northern Ireland Act, which provides for the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, became law.
item mark The United Nations (UN) Committee Against Torture published a report calling for a ban on plastic bullets, the closure of Castlereagh and other Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) detention centres and the "reconstruction" of the RUC. The report was criticised by Unionists.

Saturday 21 November 1998
item mark For the first time in 28 years Linfield football club, considered a 'Protestant club', played at the ground of Cliftonville football club, considered a mainly 'Catholic club'.

Sunday 22 November 1998
item mark The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) released figures on 'punishment' attacks that showed there had been 109 attacks by Loyalist paramilitaries and 79 carried out by Republican paramilitaries.

Monday 23 November 1998
item mark Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), addressed the Fianna Fáil (FF) Ard Fheis and said that he believed a united Ireland was inevitable within 20 years. Ahern also called for an impartial police service in Northern Ireland.

Wednesday 25 November 1998
item mark Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, travelled to Northern Ireland for talks with representatives of the main political parties in the region.

Thursday 26 November 1998
item mark Tony Blair became the first British Prime Minister to address both houses of the Oireachtas (the Irish Parliament) the Dáil and the Seanad. His speech dealt with the Good Friday Agreement and the relationships between Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

Friday 27 November 1998
item mark British soldiers who were serving in Derry on 30 January 1972 were offered immunity from prosecution when they provide evidence to the Saville inquiry into the events of 'Bloody Sunday'.

Saturday 28 November 1998
item mark George Mitchell, formerly Chairman of the multi-party talks, held meetings with Northern Ireland political leaders in Belfast. Seamus Mallon, Deputy First Minister designate, spoke of a "distinct possibility" that President Clinton would try to resolve the decommissioning row but added that he had no specific knowledge of the such a move.
item mark Peter Robinson, then deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), addressed the Annual Conference of the DUP and urged members of the Ulster Unionists Party (UUP) to "topple" their leader David Trimble. Robinson went on to say: "Better by far that you topple Trimble now rather than give him time to drag this province step by step to Dublin." The conference was also addressed by the party leader Ian Paisley.

December 1998

Wednesday 2 December 1998
item mark Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, travelled to Belfast to try to aid the search for a deal on the issue of the setting up of departments and the North-South Ministerial Council. [By the time Blair left a number of commentators felt that agreement had been reached. However, any understanding that may have been reached soon fell apart with the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) being blamed for stalling on the issue.]

Thursday 3 December 1998
item mark There was further violence at Drumcree, County Armagh, where the Orange Order was continuing its protest at not being allowed to walk down the mainly Catholic Garvaghy Road. Up to 1,000 Loyalists clashed with police at Drumcree.
item mark John Taylor, then deputy leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), told journalists reporting the discussions on the setting up of departments and the North-South Ministerial Council to take a week off "because nothing will be happening". [The Unionists were blamed for the breakdown of an agreement on the issue.] David Trimble, then leader of the UUP, travelled to Washington, United States of America (USA).

Saturday 5 December 1998
item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), travelled to Dublin for a meeting with Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister).

Monday 7 December 1998
item mark There were reports that members of the "real" Irish Republican Army (rIRA), which was on ceasefire, were offering assistance to the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) the only Republican paramilitary group not on ceasefire.

Tuesday 8 December 1998
item mark A leaked Northern Ireland Office (NIO) report shows that the number of families being forced to leave their homes because of intimidation is at its highest level since 1973.
item mark Efforts to find agreement on the setting up of departments and the North-South Ministerial Council continued in Dublin and London, as Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), warned that slippage beyond Monday 14 December 1998 would be "an awful mistake". In Washington President Clinton urged Northern Irish politicians to move the peace process forward, reminding them they should "obey not only the letter of the Good Friday Agreement but its spirit as well".

Wednesday 9 December 1998
item mark Garda Síochána (the Irish police) warned that dissident members of the "real" Irish Republican Army (rIRA) and the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) were joining the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA).

Thursday 10 December 1998
Nobel Peace Prize

item mark John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), received their Nobel Peace Prizes at an awards ceremony in the City Hall, Oslo. [Hume speech; Trimble speech]

Saturday 12 December 1998
item mark There were disturbances during an Apprentice Boys march in Derry.
item mark David Trimble, then First Minister designate, said the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons would have to be carried out in front of television cameras so that ordinary people could believe it had taken place.
item mark The Labour Party and Democratic Left voted at separate delegate conferences in Dublin to merge the two parties. The former endorsed it overwhelmingly by a show of hands, and the latter in a secret ballot by 171 votes to 21.

Sunday 13 December 1998
item mark It was reported that there had been a General Army Convention of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) which had taken the decision that there would be no decommissioning of firearms or explosives.

Monday 14 December 1998
UKUP Split

item mark Four of the five members of the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP) left the party and accused the leader, Robert (Bob) McCartney, of branding his colleagues as politically immature. [The four members went on to form the Northern Ireland Unionist Party (NIUP). The NIUP members claimed that McCartney intended to take the UKUP out of the Assembly if Sinn Féin (SF) were allowed to join an Executive. The loss of four Assembly members meant that the UKUP lost some of its privileges at the Northern Ireland Assembly such as the right to sit on the front benches.] Gerry Kelly, a SF Assembly member, accused Unionists of trying to push the Irish Republican Army (IRA) back to war.

Thursday 17 December 1998
item mark The Orange Volunteers (OV) claimed responsibility for a blast-bomb attack on a public house in Crumlin, County Antrim. [The attack was later also claimed by the Red Hand Defenders (RHD).]
item mark Danny McNamee won an appeal against his conviction for the Hyde Park bombing in July 1982. The court decided the conviction was unsafe.

Friday 18 December 1998
Agreement on Government Departments and Cross-Border Bodies

item mark In a significant breakthrough in the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, six new North-South administrative bodies and an increase from six to 10 government ministries were agreed after 18 hours of negotiations between the political parties in Northern Ireland. The six North-South bodies will cover: inland waterways, agriculture, food safety, the Irish and Ulster-Scots languages, European Union funding programmes, and trade and business development. The First Minister designate and Deputy First Minister designate issued a joint statement on what had been agreed.
It was revealed that the Orange Order was considering disciplining David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and Denis Rogan, then Chairperson of the UUP, because they had attended the Catholic funeral services of some of those killed in the Omagh bombing.
item mark The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) handed over some weapons to be destroyed to the International Decommissioning Body. The LVF was the first paramilitary group to voluntarily hand over its weapons.

Saturday 19 December 1998
item mark At a meeting in Belfast the executive of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) backed the deal done on Government departments and the North-South Ministerial Council. However the executive again called for decommissioning of paramilitary weapons.

Wednesday 23 December 1998
item mark As part of a regular Christmas parole programme, 170 paramilitary prisoners were release on a temporary basis for the holiday period. [All the prisoners returned on schedule when the parole was over.]

Monday 28 December 1998
item mark Loyalist paramilitaries threw a blast-bomb at a Catholic home in Armagh. The bomb exploded outside the house and there were no injuries.

 


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 1998.
  • 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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