Bloody Sunday: deadly flashpoint in N Ireland's Troubles

15th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Herewith key dates in Northern Ireland's history, including the 1972 Bloody Sunday killings which marked a major flashpoint in the province's three decades of violence.

1920: Ireland is partitioned after an agreement between London and Dublin which provides that six northern counties will remain under British rule.

1968: Civil rights protests spring up against discrimination against Catholics in Northern Ireland.

1969: Britain sends troops on to the streets of Northern Ireland to keep order.

1972: A total of 14 people die on Bloody Sunday, when British soldiers open fire on a civil rights march on January 30. The killings increase tensions in Northern Ireland and lead to the suspension of its government in March, leading to decades of direct rule from London. In April, a judicial inquiry exonerated the soldiers and voiced a "strong suspicion" some protestors had been firing weapons or handling bombs. It was labelled a whitewash.

1973-74: Britain bids to end direct rule with a power-sharing deal between Northern Ireland's factions with the Sunningdale Agreement but this fails.

Early to mid 1990s: Early stage talks on ending the violence take place involving the opposing sides. Years of bombings and shootings have caused over 3,000 deaths in Northern Ireland and on the British mainland.

1997: The Irish Republican Army (IRA), the main Catholic-backed militant group, declares a ceasefire. Its political wing Sinn Fein joins peace talks, hailing new prime minister Tony Blair's commitment to including all sides.

1998, January: Blair asks Lord Mark Saville to hold another inquiry into Bloody Sunday.

1998, April: The Good Friday peace accord is signed. The deal receives 71 percent support in a May referendum.

1998, June: First elections to Northern Ireland's new Assembly, which has devolved powers from London.

2002: Britain suspends Northern Ireland's power-sharing government and reimposes direct rule after allegations of an IRA spy-ring at the assembly.

2006: The Saint Andrew's Agreement, setting out a timeline towards restoring self-rule.

2007: The main protagonists agree to restart power-sharing, bringing together two former arch-foes -- Ian Paisley of the Democratic Unionists as first minister and Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein as his deputy.

2008: Paisley, 82, quits as first minister and is replaced by Peter Robinson, deputy leader of his party.

2009: Two British soldiers and a policeman are shot dead within a few days in Northern Ireland, raising fears of a return to wider unrest.

2010, February: The two power-sharing parties agree a deal on policing and justice powers, the last outstanding area of discord.

2010, June: the 5,000-page Saville Report into Bloody Sunday is published, after the longest and most expensive inquiry in British history, which has cost 190 million pounds (275 million dollars, 230 million euros).

© 2010 AFP

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