North Ireland

The Long Road to Peace


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Old Irish Blessing of Peace

Deep peace I breathe into you
Oh weariness here, O ache, here!
Deep peace, a soft white dove to you;
Deep peace, a quiet rain to you;
Deep peace, an ebbing wave to you!
Deep peace, red wind of the east from you;
Deep peace, grey wind of the west to you;
Deep peace, dark wind of the north from you;
Deep peace, blue wind of the south to you!
Deep peace, pure red of the flame to you;
Deep peace, pure white of the moon to you;
Deep peace, pure green of the grass to you;
Deep peace, pure brown of the living earth to you;
Deep peace, pure grey of the dew to you;
Deep peace, pure blue of the sky to you!
Deep peace of the running wave to you,
Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
Deep peace of the quiet Earth to you,
Deep peace of the sleeping stones to you,
Deep peace of the yellow shepherd to you,
Deep peace of the wandering shepherdess to you,
Deep peace of the Flock of Stars to You.
Deep Peace of the Son of Peace to You.
Deep peace, Deep Peace.

On the Road to Peace

Here is a guide to the key events that have led the peace process in Northern Ireland to its present point.
Aug 31IRA announces ceasefire.
Oct 13Combined Loyalist Military Command announces ceasefire.
Dec 9First meeting between Government officials and Sinn Fein.
Mar 7Northern Ireland Secretary Sir Patrick Mayhew lays out conditions for Sinn Fein joining all-party talks, including "actual decommissioning of some arms".
Jun 17Sinn Fein says it will hold no further talks with Government.
Nov 28Twin Track initiative launches preparatory talks as well as an International Body to examine decommissioning.
Nov 30US President Bill Clinton shakes hands with Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams in Belfast.
Dec 8IRA rejects decommissioning, describing it as a "ludicrous demand".
Feb 9IRA ends ceasefire with Docklands bombing, killing two and injuring 100.
Jun 10Mr Major and Irish counterpart John Bruton open preliminary all-party talks at Stormont chaired by former US Senator George Mitchell but without the banned Sinn Fein.
Jun 15200 injured when massive IRA bomb explodes in Manchester.
May 1New Labour government elected. Sinn Fein shares Labour's success, with two MPs returned, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.
May 16Prime Minister Tony Blair says officials will hold exploratory talks with Sinn Fein.
Jun 25Governments table proposals for decommissioning.
Jul 19Second IRA ceasefire announced.
Aug 26Establishment of Independent Commission on Decommissioning, headed by Canadian General John de Chastelain.
Aug 29Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam announces IRA ceasefire adequate for Sinn Fein to join talks.
Sep 9Sinn Fein attends for first time and subscribes to Mitchell principles.
Oct 13Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness meet Mr Blair for first time; later go to No 10.
Jan 9Mo Mowlam holds talks with Maze Prison terrorist inmates to persuade them to back peace process.
Feb 20Sinn Fein suspended from talks following RUC assessment of IRA involvement in UDA man's murder.
Mar 23Sinn Fein return to talks at Stormont.
Mar 25Senator Mitchell sets deadline of April 9 for agreement.
Apr 10Good Friday peace agreement struck.
Apr 27Chris Patten named chairman of Independent Commission on Policing, considering RUC's future.
Apr 30IRA says it has no plans to decommission.
May 23Northern Ireland backs Good Friday Agreement, voting 71.12% in favour. In the Republic, 94.4% back agreement and vote to drop state's constitutional claim to North.
Jun 27Assembly is elected.
Jul 1Assembly meets for first time. David Trimble elected First Minister, SDLP's Seamus Mallon deputy.
Aug 15Real IRA car bomb in Omagh kills 29 in single deadliest terrorist attack of The Troubles.
Oct 16SDLP leader John Hume and Mr Trimble awarded Nobel Peace Prize.
Oct 31Deadline for establishing executive passes, with no deal on decommissioning to allow Sinn Fein to take up two seats in 10--strong ruling executive.
Jun 22Mr Trimble calls on Mr Blair to sack Mo Mowlam for turning a blind eye to repeated IRA ceasefire violations.
Jun 30Mr Blair's midnight deadline passes without agreement on decommissioning.
Jul 2Mr Blair and Mr Ahern set out plan under which devolution would begin on July 15; General de Chastelain publishes report on decommissioning.
Jul 14Ulster Unionists refuse to join devolved government before IRA starts to give up guns.
Jul 15Ulster Unionists boycott Stormont; Mr Mallon quits as Deputy First Minister.
Jul 20Mr Blair and Mr Ahern start review of peace process; Mr Mitchell recalled as a facilitator.
Sep 9Patten Report on police reform published, provoking unionist anger.
Oct 11Peter Mandelson replaces Mo Mowlam as Secretary of State.
Oct 13Mr Mitchell moves the review to a secret location in London.
Oct 17Mr Adams calls for UUP flexibility on the arms issue.
Oct 18UUP hard-liners warn they will resist any move away from the party's "no guns, no government" policy.
Oct 20Mr Adams warns that "the review will probably not succeed."
Oct 22Talks return to Belfast as assessment seems imminent.
Oct 25UUP say there's signs of mutual trust with Sinn Fein.
Nov 8Sinn Fein casts doubts over decommissioning reports.
Nov 11Signs appear that Mr Trimble is prepared to take risk of accepting deal with Sinn Fein.
Nov 15Senator Mitchell insists parties "now understand each other's concerns and requirements far better than before".
Nov 16Ulster Unionists and Sinn Fein express mutual desire to set up inclusive executive. Sinn Fein recognises need for decommissioning and devolution to be carried out simultaneously. Pressure mounts on Mr Trimble from anti-Agreement unionists.
Nov 17IRA says it will appoint representative to Gen de Chastelain body to consult on weapons handover.
Nov 18Mr Mitchell concludes his review.
Nov 27Ruling Ulster Unionist Council back Trimble entering power-sharing Executive with Sinn Fein ahead of IRA decommissioning, agree to meet again in February to review situation.
Nov 29Power-sharing Executive set up, including two Sinn Fein ministers.
Dec 2Power devolved from London to Belfast.
Jan 31General John de Chastelain reports to British and Irish Governments there has been no move towards decommissioning.
Feb 11Devolution suspended and Direct rule reintroduced.
May 6IRA gives commitment to engage with decommissioning body.
May 30Direct rule ended and devolution resumes with Executive reconvening.
June 26IRA confirmed it has re-engaged with decommissioning body and that arms dumps have been inspected by de Chastelain's appointed inspectors, former ANC Secretary General Cyril Ramaphosa and ex-Finnish Martti Ahtisaari and declared intact.
Oct 26Second arms inspection confirmed but de Chastelain said no discussion with IRA since initial contact in June.
Oct 28David Trimble wins narrow victory in ruling Ulster Unionist Council to remain in government with Sinn Fein despite failure of IRA to decommission after announcing ban on Sinn Fein ministers attending North-South ministerial meetings.
Jan 17Tony Blair holds talks with parties at Hillsborough Castle, Co Down in bid to break political deadlock. Little success and intensive behind scenes dialogue continues.
Jan 30High Court rules Trimble ban on Sinn Fein ministers unlawful as means to put pressure on IRA to decommission. Trimble says it will be maintained and that he will appeal.
Mar 5Trimble lodges appeal against High Court ruling.
Mar 7It is confirmed Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern will hold more talks at Hillsborough in bid to resolve political impasse.
Mar 8Hours ahead of start of talks IRA says it will re- engage with decommissioning body. Round table talks follow between parties and two premiers.

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