Sunday, March 16, 2003

Key dates in the peace process

• March 25, 1991: Unionists (pro-British), nationalists (unified Ireland) and the non-sectarian Alliance Party agree to peace talks, the first since 1976.

• Nov. 10, 1992: Talks between the parties break down, but an outline for a power-sharing Northern Ireland Assembly and all-Ireland institutions is established.

• Dec. 15, 1995: Anglo-Irish Downing Street Declaration lays out principles and assurances that a permanent ceasefire by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and loyalist paramilitaries will bring inclusion in future all-party talks.

• Aug. 31, 1994: IRA calls a ceasefire. Loyalists follow on Oct. 13.

• April 10, 1998: Good Friday Agreement, backed by Britain and Ireland, creates a new 108-member Assembly, with a power-sharing Executive, and a North/South Ministerial Council for cross-border cooperation.

• May 22, 1998: Voters in Ireland approve the Agreement in separate referendums, with 71% in favor in the north and 94% in the south.

• Dec. 2, 1999: It takes a year and a half to form the Executive, with unionist David Trimble first minister and nationalist Seamus Mallon deputy first minister.

• Feb. 11, 2000: First suspension of the Assembly. Parties dispute IRA decommissioning and policing reforms.

• Oct. 14, 2002: Assembly suspended for the fourth time. Britain again resumes direct rule of Northern Ireland.

• March 3-4, 2003: Prime ministers of Britain and Ireland chair 30 hours of unsuccessful talks in an attempt to restore the Assembly before elections in May.

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Key dates in the peace process

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