A decade of painstaking progress finally reaches its climax

Following the Downing Street declaration and contacts from John Major's government, the IRA called off its 25-year armed struggle.

"As of midnight, 31 August, there will be a complete cessation of military operations. All our units have been instructed accordingly. We are therefore entering into a new situation in a spirit of determination and confidence determined that the injustices which created this conflict will be removed."


Resumption of violence followed by further attacks in central London and Manchester. Sinn Fein growing in political strength.

"The blame for the failure thus far of the Irish peace process lies squarely with John Major and his government."


New momentum in the peace process following Tony Blair's election leads to Good Friday Agreement the following year.

"We want a permanent peace and are prepared to enhance the search for a democratic peace settlement through real, inclusive negotiations."


Refused to countenance decommissioning in effort to put further pressure on government and Unionist leaders.

"There will be no decommissioning by the IRA. This issue... is a matter only for the IRA, to be decided upon and pronounced upon by us."

6 MAY 2000

Breakthrough leading to first inspection of arms dumps.

"The IRA leadership will initiate a process that will completely and verifiably put IRA arms beyond use ... [It] has agreed to put in place, within weeks, a confidence-building measure to confirm our weapons remain secure. The contents of a number of our arms dumps will be inspected by agreed third parties, who will report that they have done so to the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD). The dumps will be reinspected regularly to ensure the weapons have remained silent."

9 AUGUST 2001

Hardening of the IRA's language, prompting speculation decommissing could be soon. But it was rejected by Unionists and the NI assembly was suspended.

"The leadership has agreed a scheme with the IICD, which will put IRA arms completely and verifiably beyond use."


Withdrawing the offer was setback for the peace process and reflected the strong republican anger.

"This was an unprecedented development which involved a very difficult decision by us and problems for our organisation."


Bowing to pressure for apology to victims of atrocities.

"We offer our sincere apologies and condolences to their families. There have been fatalities among combatants on all sides. We also acknowledge the grief and pain of their relatives."


Response to the suspension of devolution after revelation of IRA spy-ring at Stormont and calls for IRA disbandment. But it stressed ceasefire continued.

"There is an effort to impose unacceptable and untenable ultimatums on the IRA. At the same time the British government, by its own admission, has not kept its commitments."

6 MAY 2003

IRA's draft form of words for ending armed conflict. Gerry Adams said the IRA had a "completely peaceful intent".

"We are resolved to see the complete and final closure of this conflict... The IRA leadership is determined to ensure that our activities, disciplines and strategies will be consistent with this."


Third and biggest act of decommissioning. But General John de Chastelaine, overseeing the process, could not give detail of the arms, infuriating Unionists.

"We have authorised our representative to meet with the IICD with a view to proceeding with the implementation of a process to put arms beyond use at the earliest opportunity. We have also authorised a further act of putting arms beyond use."


IRA agrees to allow churchmen to witness decommissioning but the deal founders on the question of photographic proof. The process is hit by the Belfast bank robbery, blamed on the IRA, and the murder of Robert McCartney.

"We restate our commitment to the peace process. But we will not submit to a process of humiliation."


The IRA is under pressure and fiercely criticises London, Dublin and Democratic Unionists.

"We are taking all our proposals off the table. It is our intention to monitor ongoing developments and protect the rights of republicans and our support base."


"It was wrong, it was murder, it was a crime. But it was not carried out by the IRA, nor was it carried out on behalf of the IRA. The IRA moved quickly to deal with those involved."

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