A Chronological History of 20th Century Key Events in Ireland

April 24-29, 1916 – Easter Rising, Dublin – This is led by Patrick Pearse, who proclaims Easter Rising, the “Irish Republic.”

1920-21 – Following the Anglo-Irish War (War of War of Independence) the Government of Ireland Act Independence &creates partition. Twenty-six southern Partition counties become the Irish Free State and six northeastern counties–Northern Ireland–remain part of Britain.

August, 1969 – The Orange Apprentice Boys of Londonderry Battle of the hold a parade. Rioting breaks out and 1,000 Bogside (Derry) police arrive to contain the crowd. Bogside marks a pivotal point where the troubles in Ireland move away from civil rights issues and toward religious and national identities. A few days later, the British Army arrives to maintain order.

December 28, 1969 – The IRA, Provisional Army Council issues a Birth of statement which signals the split between the Provisionals IRA. The Provisionals emerge.

August 9, 1971 – Internment is implemented–meaning a person Internment can be locked up without a trial. This move by the British government produces violence and political unrest.

January 30, 1972 – During a civil rights march in Deny involving Bloody Sunday thousands of people, British paratroopers (Londonderry) shoot dead thirteen Roman Catholics. (A British inquiry will later exonerate the soldiers,suggesting the demonstrators were terrorists linked to the IRA. Decades later, the British government concedes the demonstrators were innocent; a new investigation is under way in 1999.)

March 24, 1972 – As a result of Bloody Sunday, Her Majesty’s Direct Rule Government abolishes Stormont Parliament and introduces Direct Rule from Westminster, until a political solution to the problems of the province can be worked out.”

July 21,1972 – The IRA sets off 26 bombs in Belfast killing Bloody Friday nine people and injuring 130.

May 15, 1974 – The Northern Ireland (Emergency Provision) Sinn Fein legalized Act of 1973 is amended making the Ulster Volunteer Force and Sinn Fein legal organizations.

1974-1975 – A truce is reached through secret negotiation Cease-fire between the Provisional IRA and the British security forces. IRA members believe British withdrawal from Northern Ireland will follow soon.

December 5, 1975 – The British government ends internment, Internment ends declaring those who are guilty of crimes will be charged, arrested, and tried with a jury. During the period of internment nearly 2,000 people were detained without a proper trial.

March 1, 1976 – The British begin phasing out Special Criminalization Category status. After this date, all prisoners convicted of terrorist acts are to be treated as ordinary criminals and locked in H-Block.

September 15, 1976 – Kieran Nugent, Provisional IRA member is Blanket Men (Maze Prison) the first prisoner convicted and not given Special Category status. He refuses to wear a uniform and wears a blanket to differentiate himself from the Ordinary Decent Criminals (OCDs). This became known as the “Blanket Protest.”

August 2, 1978 – Cardinal O’Fiaich visits Maze Prison and Dirty Protest (Maze Prison) protests the unsanitary conditions, Three hundred Republican prisoners refuse to wear prison clothes and demand Special Category status. Protesters wear only blankets and smear the walls in their cells with excreta.

August 21, 1979 – Lord Mountbatten, uncle of Queen Elizabeth is murdered along with three others when his boat is blown up by an IRA bomb at Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo.

October 27, 1980 – Tommy McKeamey and six other IRA First Hunger Strike members start the first prison hunger strike demanding the right to wear their own clothes.

April 9, 1981 – Sands elected MP

March 1, 1981 – Bobby Sands begins a new hunger strike on the fifth anniversary of the ending of Special Category status. Forty days into his hunger strike, Sands wins.

May 5, 1981 – Bobby Sands dies on 66th day of and in the Republic 100,000 attend his funeral. His death causes riots throughout Norhtern Ireland. The next day, provisional IRA prisoner, Joe McDonnell starts a hunger strike to take the place of Sands. Another nine IRA members fast to death.

November 15, 1985 – This agreement is signed by Prime Minister Anglo-Irish Agreement Margaret Thatcher and Taoiseach GarretFitzGerald. It establishes an Inter-Governmental Conference to deal with political matters, security, and legal matters and the promotion of cross-border cooperation.

May 8, 1987 – They are gunned down during an attack by the Deaclan Arthurs, Special Air Services (SAS) while bombing Padraig McKearney. Loughhall Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and six other IRA station members of E. Tyrone Brigade are killed.

November 1, 1987 – A huge consignment of Libyan arms and Eksund–Libyan arms ammunition, including surface-to-air missiles, are discovered on board the Eksund. It’s later reported that the IRA had already received three other arms shipments from Libya.

March 6, 1988 – Sean Savage, Daniel McCann and Mairead Gibraltar Farrell, unarmed, are gunned down, by SAS. They were active IRA members. Controversy surrounds their deaths because SAS had followed them and allegedly gave no wanting before the shootings. SAS claim they feared the three were about to detonate a bomb.

March 16, 1988 – Three mourners are killed by Loyalist gunman Michael Stone Milltown cemetery in Belfast during the burial of the three IRA members killed in Gibraltar.

March 16, 1988 – Two British Soldiers are Killed – These two soldiers accidentally drive into the funeral procession of Kevin Brady in Andersonstown (he was one of the three IRA victims killed by the Milltown gunman two days earlier.) TV cameras record how the soldiers are dragged from their car, beaten by the crowd, and then shot dead by IRA. The footage is shown around the world.

January 11, 1988 – SDLP and Sinn Fein Talks – Social Democratic Labor Party leader John Hume and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams begin discussions for an all-Ireland settlement.

February 7, 1991 – IRA Mortars – The IRA fires a mortar bomb 15 yards from a room where Prime Minister John Major is meeting with his cabinet. No one is injured.

October 17, 1992 – Teebane Crossroads – Seven Protestant constructions workers at a security base in Co. Tyrone are killed by an IRA bomb. The driver of their bus dies too.

October 24, 1993 – Bishopsgate bomb – An IRA bomb containing one ton of fertilizer explosives goes off at the NatWest Tower in London. One is killed and 30 are injured. Damages amount to $1 billion.

October 23, 1993 – Shankhill bomb – IRA detonates a bomb in a Belfast fish shop. Ten people die including one of the bombers;

December 15, 1993 – Downing Street – John Major and Albert Reynolds issue a Joint Declaration on Northern Ireland

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