BELFAST (AFP) – Northern Ireland came into being on May 3, 1921, as Ireland became independent from Britain and was split between pro-Ireland nationalists and pro-UK unionists, who hold the most power. Here is a timeline of its history.
‘The Troubles’ begin
On August 12, 1969, “The Troubles” begin with sectarian fighting in Londonderry between Catholic nationalists and Protestant unionists. Two days later, British troops are deployed.
In December, pro-Catholic nationalist paramilitary, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) is formed.
British security forces start interning prisoners without trial in 1971 – 342 nationalists suspected of terror activity are immediately detained. Interrogation techniques used on prisoners have since been described as torture.
British soldiers shoot dead 14 at a peaceful nationalist protest in Londonderry on January 30, 1972, known as Bloody Sunday. British Prime Minister David Cameron later calls it “both unjustified and unjustifiable”.
In March, the regional government in Belfast is suspended and Britain takes over “direct rule” of the province in an attempt to restore order.
Talks between British, Irish and Northern Irish leaders in December 1973 result in the Sunningdale Agreement, which pushes for a power-sharing government but the short-lived project is brought down a few months later by a general strike among unionists.
Members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army march in the streets of Belfast after heavy clashes occurred between Northern Ireland’s police force, the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the members of the IRA, on Aug 10, 1977. PHOTO: AFP
May 17, 1974, marks the deadliest day in The Troubles, with 34 killed in four bombings by unionist paramilitaries in the Irish capital, Dublin, and border town of Monaghan.
On Aug 27, 1979, 18 British troops are killed by the IRA in twin bombings at Warrenpoint – the deadliest attack on the army in the conflict.
Simultaneously, the IRA kills the cousin of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, Lord Louis Mountbatten, by bombing his boat off the west coast of Ireland.
Republican prisoners begin a high-profile series of hunger strikes