NORTHERN IRELAND'S NEW GOVERNMENT: SIX YEARS ON THE ROAD TO DEVOLUTION

THE FORMING of the executive ends a six-year road to peace in Ulster. Key developments included:

1993

15 December: Prime Minister John Major and Irish Premier Albert Reynolds make the Downing Street Declaration, offering Sinn Fein the chance to join the political process.

1994

31 August: IRA announces ceasefire.

13 October: Combined Loyalist Military Command announces ceasefire.

9 December: First meeting between British government officials and Sinn Fein.

1995

7 March: Northern Ireland Secretary Sir Patrick Mayhew says condition for Sinn Fein joining talks include "decommissioning of some arms".

17 June: Sinn Fein pulls out of talks with the British government.

28 November: London and Dublin launch Twin Track initiative, setting up parallel talks on the arms and political issues.

US President Bill Clinton shakes hands with Gerry Adams in Belfast.

1996

9 February: IRA ends cease-fire with Docklands bombing, killing two.

15 June: Massive IRA bomb destroys Manchester city centre.

1997

1 May: Sinn Fein scores best ever general election result with two MPs: Mr Adams and eventual peace talks negotiator Martin McGuinness.

6 July: Drumcree Orange Order march forced down Garvaghy Road by RUC.

19 July: IRA announces it will restore 1994 cease-fire.

26 August: The Independent Commission on Decommissioning is headed by Canadian General John de Chastelain.

29 August: Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam announces IRA ceasefire adequate for Sinn Fein to join talks.

1998

9 January: Dr Mowlam holds talks with terrorist inmates in the Maze to persuade them to back peace process.

20 February: Sinn Fein suspended from talks after assessment of RUC chief constable Ronnie Flanagan that IRA was involved in UDA man's murder.

10 April: Good Friday Agreement struck.

27 April: Announcement that Chris Patten will chair independent commission to decide future of the RUC.

23 May: Northern Ireland backs Good Friday Agreement, voting 71.12 per cent in favour. In the Republic, 94.4 per cent back the agreement.

27 June: New Northern Ireland executive is elected, with pro-agreement parties taking majority of the 100 seats. David Trimble elected First Minister with the SDLP's Seamus Mallon made deputy.

15 August: Splinter group the Real IRA explodes a car bomb in Omagh. The worst atrocity in 30 years of the Troubles claims 29 lives.

October 16: SDLP leader John Hume and Mr Trimble are awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

1999

2 July: Bruitish and Irish premiers Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern set out plan for devolution including IRA to empty arms dumps by May 2000.

15 July: Ulster Unionists boycott Stormont meeting intended to set up executive. Mr Mallon quits as Deputy First Minister.

20 July: A review of the peace process headed by Senator George Mitchell is announced.

26 August: Dr Mowlam says IRA cease-fire is intact.

9 September: Unionists react angrily to Mr Patten's plans for reforming RUC.

20 September: Michelle Williamson, whose parents died in 1993 Shankill bomb, granted right to seek judicial review of Dr Mowlam's decision. Ms Williamson subsequently loses her case.

11 October: Peter Mandelson replaces Dr Mowlam as Northern Ireland Secretary.

16 November: Sinn Fein recognises need for decommissioning and devolution to be carried out simultaneously.

17 November: The IRA issues a statement saying it will appoint a representative to the de Chastelain body.

18 November: Mr Mitchell concludes his review, saying the formula now exists for a Northern Ireland executive to be set up.

27 November: Ulster Unionist Council votes by 480-349 to accept Mitchell compromise.

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