Peace Process

A chronology of Northern Ireland peace process and community relations policy:

22 February 1995: Framework Documents

“The declaration that we have agreed today shows the commitment of the two Governments for peace and democracy and against violence. Its objective is to set a framework for peace, a framework that reflects our responsibilities to both communities in a way that is fully compatible with the undertakings that we have both given and with the objectives of the talks process.”
-John Major, Downing Street Declaration

10 April 1998: Good Friday/Belfast Agreement

The Good Friday Agreement states that the signatory parties “affirm their commitment to the mutual respect, the civil rights and the religious liberties of everyone in the community”.

25 June 1998: Northern Ireland Assembly elections

The first elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly return the UUP and SDLP as the largest parties.

15 August 1998: Omagh bombing

“The aim of those bombers was, as I say, not just to kill innocent people but to strike at the very heart of the peace process. The best response that we can give, therefore, is not to abandon the Good Friday agreement but, on the contrary, to carry it forward vigorously, to deny these people the very objective they seek, and to continue to work for a better future for Northern Ireland that puts the past behind us. [Tony Blair, UK Prime Minister] will also continue to have our support in implementing the Good Friday agreement and in carrying through the efforts of this Government and the Government of my right hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Major) to bring lasting peace.”
-William Hague (Conservative Party), speaking in House of Commons in aftermath of Omagh Bombing

19 November 1998: The Northern Ireland Act

Section 75(1) and (2) creates a statutory duty for a public authority: “in carrying out its functions relating to Northern Ireland to have regard to the desirability of promoting good relations between persons of different religious belief, political opinion or racial group”.

11 February 2000: Northern Ireland Assembly suspended

14 October 2002: Northern Ireland Assembly suspended

The Northern Ireland Assembly is suspended. Meanwhile, the “Harbison Report” is published and indicates that current good relations policy is not significantly improving tensions between communities in Northern Ireland.

January 2003: A Shared Future initiative launched

Under Direct Rule administration, the Community Relations Unit of the Office of the First and deputy First Minister launches policy document, “A Shared Future: Improving Relations in Northern Ireland”.

26 November 2003: Northern Ireland Assembly elections

Elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly return the DUP and Sinn Féin as the largest parties.

March 2005: A Shared Future policy published

“A Shared Future: The Policy and Strategic Framework for Good Relations in Northern Ireland” is published by Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Paul Murphy:

5 May 2005: Northern Ireland Assembly elections

April 2006: A Shared Future: First Triennial Action Plan

Under Direct Rule administration, OFMdFM publishes “A Shared Future: First Triennial Action Plan 2006–2009”. The action plan is named “Making it happen: Implementing the policy and strategic framework for Good Relations in Northern Ireland”.

13 October 2006: St Andrews Agreement

An agreement is reached at St Andrews and the Northern Ireland Act 2006 is passed. The St Andrews Agreement states that “The British government has also agreed to take forward a number of measures to build confidence in both communities and to pursue a shared future.”

7 March 2007: Northern Ireland Assembly elections

Elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly are held, which returns Sinn Féin and the DUP as the largest parties. The subsequent Programme for Government (Northern Ireland Executive) states that ‘equality, fairness, inclusion and the promotion of good relations will be watchwords for all our policies’.

4 April 2007: Bertie Ahern-Ian Paisley handshake

“We must do our best to put behind us the terrible wounds of the past and work together to build a new relationship between our two traditions.”
-Bertie Ahern, Ireland Taoiseach

January 2008: Cohesion, Sharing and Integration (CSI) initiative announced

OFMdFM announce plans to produce a “Cohesion, Sharing and Integration” (CSI) document.

September 2008: CSI progress

The deputy First Minister informs the Northern Ireland Assembly that the draft strategy for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration will be brought before the Committee for the Office of the First and deputy First Minister.

28 October 2008: CSI DUP draft

DUP published a draft version of CSI on its party’s website.

16 September 2009: CSI Sinn Féin draft

Sinn Féin published a draft version of CSI on its party’s website.

February 2010: CSI final draft prepared

OFMdFM indicate that a final draft of CSI is being prepared.

July 2010: CSI consultation launched

OFMdFM launch consultation (and summary) for Programme for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration.

UUP, SDLP and Alliance parties criticise CSI for “lacking vision”.

October 2010: CSI CRC response

Community Relations Council publishes its response to the CSI consultation. See also the CRC’s review.

November 2010: CSI consultation closes

OFMdFM indicate that over 200 responses have been received for CSI. Consultation is officially closed on 5 November 2010.

February 2012: Northern Ireland Peace Monitoring Report (Volume 1)

Community Relations Council published the first issue of Northern Ireland Peace Monitoring Report:

January 2013: Unresolved issues named

First Minister Peter Robinson reveals unresolved issues are primarily in regards to flags, parades and dealing with the past.

29 January 2013: Alliance Party blueprint

For Everyone: The Alliance Party Blueprint for an Executive Strategy to Build a Shared and Better Future

Alliance publishes party policy document on community relations, “For Everyone: The Alliance Party Blueprint for an Executive Strategy to Build a Shared and Better Future”. Full versionExecutive Summary.

March 2013: Northern Ireland Peace Monitoring Report (Volume 2)

Community Relations Council published the second issue of Northern Ireland Peace Monitoring Report:

May 2013: Together: Building a United Community (TBUC) initiative launched

OFMdFM launched cross-community initiatives and pledge the publication of policy document, “Together: Building a United Community”. Another all-party Working Group to be established, but this one to be headed by an independent chairperson.

July 2013: Haass-O’Sullivan Talks initiated

Creation of the Panel of Parties in the Northern Ireland Executive

September 2013: CRC submission to Haass-O’Sullivan Talks

Community Relations Council submission to Panel of Parties:

December 2013: Haass-O’Sullivan Talks result

A result of the Haass-O’Sullivan Talks: “A Proposed Agreement on Parades, Select Commemorations, and Related Protests; Flags and Emblems; and Contending with the Past”.

March 2014: Northern Ireland Peace Monitoring Report (Volume 3)

Community Relations Council published the third issue of Northern Ireland Peace Monitoring Report:

17 November 2015: A Fresh Start

After ten weeks of intensive cross party talks at Stormont House, the Northern Ireland executive and the UK and Irish governments agreed a set of actions to address the two key themes the talks were convened to address:

  • to secure the full implementation of the Stormont House Agreement
  • to deal with the impact of continued paramilitary activity

“A Fresh Start: the Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan” builds on previous political agreements and brings closer the goal of a Northern Ireland where politics works, the economy grows and society is stronger.