Chronology of Provisional IRA disarmament


The historic statement from the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning due today was nine-and-a-half years in the making.

February 1996:

Ending of IRA's first ceasefire with bombing of London's docklands.

July 1997:

IRA ceasefire restored to foster political progress.

August 1997:

The Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) established by the British and Irish governments.

April 1998:

Under the terms of the Belfast Agreement, all parties reaffirm their commitment to the "total disarmament" of all paramilitary organisations. The IRA insists it would never decommission.

November 1999:

The IRA commits to sending a representative to meet Gen John de Chastelain, head of the IICD.

January 2000:

The IICD reports that it had discussions with the IRA, UFF and UVF but had received no information from the IRA as to when decommissioning would start.

February 2000:

The IRA withdraws from co- operation with the IICD after Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Peter Mandelson suspends Stormont institutions. David Trimble survives an UUP leadership challenge.

May 2000:

A deal is reached which brings about the restoration of the institutions and the beginning of a process for putting weapons beyond use. The IRA announces it will permit two international inspectors to inspect its arms dumps.

June 2000:

IRA dumps are inspected.

July 2001:

P O'Neill reports that the IRA had met Gen de Chastelain on eight occasions and agreed a scheme for decommissioning.

August 2001:

The IRA agrees a scheme with the IICD to put arms completely and verifiably beyond use. Unionists denounce lack of progress on actual decommissioning. A week later, the IRA withdraws the offer on weapons made to the IICD.

September 2001:

Northern Secretary Dr John Reid initiates another temporary suspension of devolution in the hope of resolving decommissioning issue.

October 2001:

Following the furore over the arrest of the so-called Colombia 3, the IRA announces that an act of decommissioning had taken place "to save the peace process".

April 2002:

The IRA announces it had put a second consignment of weapons "beyond use".

October 2002:

Fuelled by allegations of IRA intelligence-gathering at Stormont, the Assembly is again suspended. The IRA suspends contact with the IICD. Twelve months of stalemate follows.

October 2003:

P O'Neill claims the IRA's relationship with the IICD is back on. A deal which could have resulted in the restoration of the Stormont institutions collapses when Gen de Chastelain says he cannot provide details of a disarmament he had overseen.

September 2004:

Gen de Chastelain indicates to the DUP that the IRA would carry out more credible acts of decommissioning in the event of a political deal.

December 2004:

DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley demands photographic evidence of decommissioning. The IRA responds that it was never possible that it would be reduced to an act of humiliation. Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British prime minister Tony Blair meet in midst of deadlock over visual proof. Dr Paisley says he has information the IRA may be about to decommission, but without providing photographic verification.

July 2005:

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain decides to release Shankill Road bomber Seán Kelly. The IRA declares it is abandoning its 35-year armed campaign and orders all members to dump arms. It asks two clergymen, one Protestant, one Catholic, and Gen de Chastelain to witness the destruction.

August 2005:

An additional member is recruited to the IICD, raising speculation that the IRA is primed to begin dismantling its arsenals.