State Papers1992-2002

1992-2002: The path to a new Northern Ireland

State papers released this week in Belfast and Dublin cover a 10-year period as files are being declassified from between 20 and 30 years ago

1992: Charles Haughey resigns as taoiseach and is replaced by Albert Reynolds. Mary Robinson becomes first serving president to visit Belfast.

1993: Reynolds and British prime minister John Major issue Downing Street Declaration, setting out charter for peace and accepting principle of self-determination.

1994: IRA announces ceasefire which is followed by combined loyalist paramilitaries’ ceasefire – theirs came five months after the Loughinisland massacre.

1995: Taoiseach John Bruton and Major announce joint communique, designed to lead to all-party talks. It includes setting up decommissioning body, chaired by former US senator George Mitchell.


1996: Two people are killed and 100 injured when an IRA bomb explodes near Canary Wharf in London, ending the IRA ceasefire and removing Sinn Féin from the talks process. Detective Garda Jerry McCabe is killed by IRA members during an attempted robbery in Adare, Co Limerick.

1997: Bertie Ahern becomes taoiseach and Tony Blair becomes British prime minister, appointing Mo Mowlam as his Northern Ireland secretary. IRA announce second ceasefire.

1998 (April): The Belfast Agreement, also known as the Good Friday Agreement, is signed after intensive talks. It paves the way for a powersharing devolved assembly in Northern Ireland, police reforms and a military scale-down.

1998 (May): Referendums on the Belfast Agreement get the support of 71 per cent of voters in Northern Ireland and 94 per cent in the Republic. The NI Assembly is elected one month later but disagreements over arms decommissioning mean it cannot function.

1998 (August): The Real IRA dissident group kills 29 people and two unborn babies when they bomb Omagh town centre. This is the largest single atrocity of the conflict.

1999: After months of disagreement over decommissioning, the IRA says it will talk to Gen John de Chastelain, head of the international arms decommissioning body, if the powersharing executive takes office. The NI Assembly meets and powersharing begins. David Trimble becomes first minister and the SDLP’s Séamus Mallon deputy first minister.

2000: IRA begins decommissioning weapons. The last terrorist prisoners are freed from the Maze under the early release terms of the Belfast Agreement.

2001: The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) is established.

2002: Northern Ireland Assembly is suspended after “Stormontgate” when police raid Sinn Féin offices on suspicions that an IRA spy ring is operating within the party. Ongoing disagreements over implementation of the Belfast Agreement mean the assembly is not restored until 2007.