Timeline of Recent Unrest, Sectarianism, Paramilitary Activity and Developments in the Peace Process

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Developments March 2009 - December 2010
Developments 2011
Developments 2012
Developments 2013
Developments 2014
Developments 2015
Developments 2016

December 2016 January 2017 February 2017
March 2017
April 2017
May 2017
June 2017
July 2017
August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017
December 2017 Latest

January 2017

1st éirígí said in their New Year statement that their focus for 2017 would be opposing 'the privatisation and commodification of housing'. The Republican Network for Unity said 'we as revolutionary republicans must this year strive to present an alternative to constitutionalism, we must gain the support of the majority of the people of this island to make our goals and ambitions a reality'.

A foreign national was subject to a 'racially motivated hate crime' in Belfast city centre.

2nd Tyrone manager Mickey Harte said that the GAA could stop playing the Irish national anthem and flying the tricolour at matches 'when the time is right'.

5th Police appealed for witnesses to come forward over the UDA murder of Brian McIlhagga which had occurred two years previously.

6th In the Turf Lodge area of west Belfast, a man was shot in both legs. Speaking for the SDLP, Alex Attwood said 'there is a new tyranny emerging - drug pushing on one hand and violent attacks on the other. Many in west Belfast know the scale of the threat, the impact on our community and the risks for our young people in particular. People and police must together confront these criminal and violent forces.' The Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire said 'I am sickened by news of the punishment-style shooting in Belfast last night - a cowardly act of violence that has no place in our society'.

Homes were evacuated in Magherafelt after a hoax alert.

A judge revoked the bail of Damien McLaughlin, due to stand trial over the murder of prison officer David Black.

8th Garryduff Independent Orange Hall on Garryduff Road was damaged in an arson attack.

9th Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness resigned from his position in government over the RHI renewable energy scandal. He was also in poor health.

The family of murdered prison officer David Black said that they felt 'betrayed by the justice system'. Damien McLaughlin, who had been due to stand trial, had been released on bail and had gone missing.

10th MPs were briefed on the situation after the departure of Martin McGuinness. First Minister Arlene Foster of the DUP, whose resignation had been forced by that of McGuinness, said that she was willing to open talks with Sinn Féin to prevent a collapse of power sharing. British Prime Minister Theresa May discussed the crisis with Taoiseach Enda Kenny. An assembly election looked to be highly likely.

11th Sinn Féin said they were 'not interested' in crisis talks. However, Enda Kenny suggested that Sinn Féin and DUP were willing to consider a meeting.

The SDLP announced that they would back British-Irish rule if devolution failed, but not direct rule from Britain. Colum Eastwood said 'we cannot allow a DUP-run government to be solely replaced by British direct rule ministers. Theresa May, the British secretary of state [James Brokenshire] and the DUP need to understand that there can be no return to what has gone before.'

12th Funding was found for the Líofa Gaeltacht Bursary Scheme. McGuinness had said that a major cut to the scheme had been part of the reason for his resignation.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the British Labour Party, said that he would oppose direct rule.

Óglaigh na hÉireann shot and injured the parents of a youth who they had intended to target in a punishment attack. The shooting was widely condemned.

13th It was reported that Northern Ireland's Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir was challenging a 280-year-old ban on Irish being spoken in courts. Disagreements over the official use of Irish language had been part of the tensions between Sinn Féin and the DUP.

14th It was reported that threats had been made against a family member of the couple shot by Óglaigh na hÉireann.

Brians Well Road in west Belfast was shut during a security alert. Police said later that they had found a device that was designed to kill.

15th The Police Federation of Northern Ireland expressed fears that post-Brexit border posts would be a propaganda gift and a target for republicans opposed to the peace process.

Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire said that he was not considering any alternatives to devolved government. However, Sinn Féin confirmed that they would not be putting forward a candidate to replace Martin McGuinness.

16th With deadlock at Stormont, an election was announced. The DUP accused Sinn Féin of forcing the election.

17th After British Prime Minister Theresa May's announcement that the UK would leave the European Single Market, Sinn Féin said that this would create a hard border in Ireland.

James Brokenshire said that the British government remained committed to the Good Friday Agreement.

It was reported that the families of three Scottish soldiers killed by the PIRA were taking action to get justice. The men's killers were believed to be living freely in the Republic.

18th It was reported that paramilitary-style shootings had doubled in west Belfast during 2016.

A 'viable device' was found during a security alert in Dungannon.

19th It was announced that Martin McGuinness would not stand for re-election.

Sinn Féin threatened to pull out of the Joint Ministerial Council over concerns about negotiations for the UK to leave the EU.

Facebook confirmed that it had removed a list of people accused of anti-social behaviour after a series of punishment shootings.

20th The DUP's Ian Paisley thanked Martin McGuinness, saying his 'remarkable journey not only saved lives but made the lives of countless people better'.

21st Gerry Adams said that Brexit would be a 'hostile action' that would destroy the peace deal. 'The British prime minister repeated her intention to bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European court. Along with her commitment to remove Britain from the European convention on human rights, this stand threatens to undermine the fundamental human rights elements of the Good Friday agreement.'

A man who had been arrested over Facebook posts that had made serious allegations about some people in west Belfast was released on bail. The list named people suspected of being part of a joyriding gang in the Turf Lodge area. The list had been linked to punishment shootings.

The Guardian reported on the 'uneasy peace' in Northern Ireland, focusing on Portadown.

22nd The UK government rejected Gerry Adam's comments on Brexit and the Good Friday Agreement. It said there would be 'no return to the borders of the past'.

A police officer was shot and injured during a drive-by attack in north Belfast.

23rd Police called the shooting of one of their officers 'reckless madness'.

Michelle O'Neill was named as the new Sinn Féin leader. According to The Guardian, 'while her father served prison sentences for IRA offences during the Northern Ireland Troubles, Michelle O’Neill has no such baggage and represents a break with the republican movement’s violent past'.

The Police Federation said that a hard border between North and South would put their officers at risk.

24th Two men were arrested and one released over the shooting of a police officer two days previously.

25th The New IRA claimed the shooting of a police officer on the Crumlin Road.

A gun was found in a bin in west Belfast.

A deceased soldier from the Parachute Regiment, Allan McVitie, was named as the man who shot dead father-of-six Henry Thornton, a van driver, in 1971.

Eamon de Valera's grave, in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, was vandalised.

26th It was reported that republicans Colin Duffy, Henry Fitzsimons and Alex McCrory would be facing trial over paramilitary offences. The charges related to an attack on 5th December 2013.

27th Conservative MP Bob Stewart admitted to having been 'a kind of torturer' during the Troubles. He said that torture was sometimes justified, and can work.

28th A pipe bomb was found during an alert at Earhart Park in Derry.

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire argued that the Troubles inquiry was focusing too much on the police and army. Numerous former soldiers were facing prosecutions over killings. Brokenshire said that 'I am clear the current system is not working and we are in danger of seeing the past rewritten. It is also clear the current focus is disproportionately on those who worked for the state [...] the vast majority of whom served in Northern Ireland with great courage, professionalism and distinction'.

James Brokenshire became the first secretary of state to attend a gaelic football match in Northern Ireland. He was lately criticised for 'snubbing' the Irish national anthem.

30th It was reported that a gun used to injure a police officer the week before had been used in a previous attack on police.

British Prime Minister Theresa May warned Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales that they would have no veto on Brexit. The taoiseach, Enda Kenny, spelled out fears over a 'hard border' with the North. May said that she wantd a 'seamless, frictionless border'.

Irish foreign minister Charlie Flanagan said Dublin did not look favourably on any proposed amnesty for either 'state or non-state actors'.

An appeal by republican 'Slab' Murphy against his sentence for tax evasion was dismissed.

31st Bombardier called for a swift resolution to the Stormont crisis.

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February 2017

1st The secretary of state, James Brokenshire, ruled out the possibility of Northern Ireland having special status after Brexit.

Tributes were paid to Margaret McKinney, a founder of the Families for the Disappeared, who had died aged 85. Her son Brian had been killed by the IRA in 1978.

2nd The BBC cited figures that challenged claims that investigations into Troubles killings were unduly focused on those committed by the army. The DUP had said that up to 90% of PSNI legacy investigations involved killings by the army, but PSNI figures showed it was about 30%.

3rd Royal Marine Ciaran Maxwell pleaded guilty to stashing explosives in preparation for an attack. The Guardian reported that 'Maxwell, who grew up in the predominantly Protestant unionist town of Larne, used the cover of being a British marine to aid Irish republican dissidents opposed to peace and power-sharing in Northern Ireland'.

A bomb was found in the garden of a house in Kinnaird Street, North Belfast.

5th Gerry Adams said he would visit the White House if invited for St.Patrick's Day. Earlier in the week, Sinn Féin's leader at Stormont, Michelle O'Neill, had said that an invitation to President Trump to visit Northern Ireland was no longer appropriate. However, Trump said that St Patrick's Day was about Ireland, not Mr Trump.

Shots were fired at a house in Newtownabbey.

6th Arlene Foster of the DUP said that her party would never agree to an Irish language act. She said it would be better to have a Polish language act because more people in Northern Ireland spoke Polish.

Patrick Brennan was jailed in Dublin after being caught with high grade explosives and three detonators on a bus.

7th John Mason of the SNP said he was sorry for a tweet about IRA 'freedom fighters'.

8th It was reported that a European Arrest Warrant had been obtained for Damien McLaughlin, wanted on charges relating to the killing of David Black.

The Conradh na Gaeilge began an action over the executive's failure to adopt an Irish language strategy.

Dan Mulhall, Irish ambassador to the UK, said it would be impossible to monitor the numerous crossing points on the Irish border after Brexit.

9th A planned march by military veteran in Derry was cancelled. Veterans for Justic UK had wanted to 'highlight injustices against soldiers'.

The Public Prosecution Service announced its decision not to prosecute a man over the Kingsmill massacre. A palm print found on a van used in the murders was believed to belong to him.

Three suspect devices were made safe in Naas.

11th Bertie Ahern argued that the Northern Ireland peace process had been put at risk by Brexit. He said that British Prime Minister Theresa May 'seems to be switching her language. She's saying not that there'll be no border, but that the border won't be as difficult as to create problems. I worry far more about what's going to happen with that. It will take away the calming effects [of an open border]. Any attempt to try to start putting down border posts, or to man [it] in a physical sense as used to be the case, would be very hard to maintain, and would create a lot of bad feeling.'

13th Irish foreign minister Charlie Flanagan warned that human rights protections under the Good Friday Agreement were 'inviolable' and could not be altered by Brexit.

14th A man was left in a critical condition after being shot in County Armagh.

It was reported that the former British Prime Minister Edward Heath had been linked to the Hooded Men torture decision.

The Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire rejected calls to step aside as chair of cross-party talks after the assembly election. Both Sinn Féin and the SDLP had claimed that his recent comments on the legacy of the Troubles meant he could not be an honest broker in any negotiations.

15th A man was shotin the legs on the Falls Road in Belfast.

The Taoiseach Enda Kenny said it was a matter of vital national interest that there was no return to a hard border on the island of Ireland when the UK left the EU.

Belfast High Court heard that the torture of the Hooded Men was 'on the scale of a war crime'.

16th The court in Belfast heard that one of the Hooded Men had been bitten by a soldier's dog.

A 16-year-old boy was wounded in a gun attack. The police called it 'child abuse'.

An application to hold the trial of Damien McLaughlin in his absence was adjourned. McLaughlin was accused of the shooting of prison officer David Black.

17th It was reported that Belfast's Jewish community had been subject to racist abuse online.

Judgement was reserved in the Hooded Men case.

18th The BBC reported on the rise of contemporary art murals in Belfast. Meanwhile, the Guardian reported that punk bands were demanding recognition for uniting Catholics and Protestants during the Troubles.

A protest against Brexit halted traffic at the Irish border.

19th Masked men entered a house in Coleraine and shot a man and his mother.

20th The DUP launched their election manifesto, warning that a victory in the Assembly election could give Sinn Féin a 'hugely significant worldwide propaganda boost'.

21st Pipe bombs and ammunition linked to the INLA were discovered on Conway Street, west Belfast.

Pat Finucane's family lost their appeal against the British government's decision not to hold a public inquiry into his murder.

22nd British Prime Minister Theresa May attacked claims that she had 'made a business of dragging soldiers through the courts over incidents in Northern Ireland'.

The SDLP's Colum Eastwood said that power-sharing was at stake in the Assembly election.

A device was found outside the house of a police officer in Derry. The PSNI blamed 'violent dissident republicans'. The bomb later exploded while they were trying to defuse it.

23rd The European Commmission president said that he agreed with the Irish government that Brexit shoud not bring back a 'hard' Northern Ireland border.

24th The DUP admitted to spending £425,000 on their pro-Brexit campaign, including £282,000 on an advert that did not run in Northern Ireland.

26th The Financial Services Union warned that jobs in the sector could be put at risk by continued political instability in Northern Ireland.

27th The PSNI failed in their appeal against an order to disclose police documents related to two murder attempts on Catholic taxi driver John Flynn.

Former Secretary of State Peter Hain said that Brexit put the Northern Ireland peace process at risk. He was 'not convinced the government has begun to even grasp the political significance' of reintroducing border controls. Hain had introduced an amendment to the bill which authorised the government to trigger the process of leaving the EU, arguing for the maintenance of an open border.

28th Sinn Féin defended having sent a leaflet to schoolchildren. It had been part of a campaign for better broadband.

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March 2017

2nd Damien McLaughlin, who had gone missing after being released on bail, appeared in a Dublin court accused of the murder of prison officer David Black.

A Department of Education review accused Stormont on failing to lead the way in integrated education.

An election was held for the Northern Ireland Assembly. The DUP managed 28 seats and Sinn Féin 27, while the UUP's share of the vote declined. It was the first time that unionists no longer held the majority at Stormont.

3rd A High Court judge ruled that the Stormont Executive had failed in its legal duty to adopt an Irish language strategy.

Mike Nesbitt stepped down as UUP leader.

4th Shots were fired through the window of a property in Dungiven.

5th Three men were charged after a gun was found in Enniskillen.

6th Gerry Adams said that the family of Martin McGuinness had asked for privacy among reports of the former Deputy First Minister's failing health.

A police officer spoke about being shot at a petrol station in Belfast. He said 'blood was pouring out. I thought that was me. I thought I was going to die on that forecourt'. An appeal went out on Crimewatch.

8th Irish foreign minister Charlie Flanagan met NI Secretary James Brokenshire. He warned that talks to restore Stormont's institutions were operating under a 'tight time frame'.

9th The Council of Europe reported that an Irish language act is a necessity prevented by 'sectarian politics'.

The NI Secretary James Brokenshire said that Northern Ireland could face another election if no agreement on restoring the devolved government was reached within three weeks.

10th Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said that the Northern Ireland Assembly election result had shown that Irish unity was achievable.

11th An opinion poll in the Republic showed a rise in support for Sinn Féin.

A doorman was
attacked with a fire extinguisher at a bar in Carrickfergus. The atttack was linked to an ongoing paramilitary feud.

12th Fintan O'Toole argued in the Guardian that a Northern Irish identity with no sectarian markers was arising after Brexit.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said she 'did not consider resigning' after the Assembly election.

13th A high-profile loyalist, George Gilmore, was shot in the neck in Carrickfergus.

Michelle O'Neil, leader of Sinn Féin in the North, called for a referendum on Irish unity 'as soon as possible'.

14th In a letter to army veterans, British Prime Minister Theresa May said that the system of addressing the legacy of the past in Northern Ireland was 'unbalanced'. In her view investigations should focus 'much more on the hundreds of unsolved murders committed by terrorists'. On the same day she argued that it was the wrong time for a broder poll, and the focus should be on talks to restore Stormont.

15th Loyalist George Gilmore died after being shot. The PSNI said it was working hard to avoid reprisal attacks.

16th Outgoing UUP leader Mike Nesbitt said his decision to give his second-preference vote to the SDLP did not hurt his party.

Relatives of men killed in the Kingsmills massacre accused the Republic of Ireland authorities of failing them in the search for justice. They said that both the government and the Irish police had paid 'mere lip service' to the idea of handing over information about the murders.

17th Two pipe bombs exploded at two separate houses in Bushmills, Co. Antrim, just before one in the morning.

The BBC reported the views of Irish unity among border-based Protestants. Opinions were mixed. Rev David Latimer said that 'I would have to say any talk of the border on the northern side injects my co-religionists with fear, so therefore I think we have to be careful. In contrast, you come over here to east Donegal and the border is never mentioned.'

Two men were charged over the murder of loyalist George Gilmore.

Police said they would be treating as a hate crime the defacement of a Belfast memorial to an Irish Zionist who fought in the First World War.

18th The two men accused of murdering George Gilmore appeared in court.

19th After the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, said he agreed that there would be no return to direct rule, British Prime Minister Theresa May stressed that maintaining political stability in Northern Ireland was a UK responsibility.

Another man was arrested over the murder of George Gilmore.

20th Gerry Adams urged the Taoiseach Enda Kenny to stand up for Ireland over Brexit. He said Kenny needed 'to act accordingly and stand up for our national interests across the island, at European level, to secure special designated status for the north within the EU. That is the consensus of the majority of parties north and south. If the British government succeeds in its plans, it will drive part of Ireland out of the European Union. That is not acceptable.'

Ex-soldier Dennis Hutchings appeared in court in Armagh over the killing of a man with learning difficulties in 1974. He was accused of firing his gun three times at John-Pat Cunningham, who was unarmed, as he ran from an army patrol.

21st Former IRA leader and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness died of an illness.

A bomb exploded in Tyrone in an attempt to kill police officers. The PSNI said that its officers had been lucky to escape with their lives. The bomb was later described as 'a roadside bomb with a command wire attached'.

22nd Former chief constable Hugh Orde said that Martin McGuinness' denunciation of republicans opposed to the peace process as 'traitors' had been 'one of the most extraordinary experiences' of his career.

23rd Gerry Adams opposed an extension to talks aimed at forming a new Northern Ireland Executive.

Two boys were injured when a petrol bomb was thrown into a house in Craigavon.

24th The Guardian warned about the effect of Brexit on Northern Ireland.

25th Sinn Féin said that the current phase of Northern Ireland inter-party discussions at Stormont Castle had run its course.

27th A man was shot in the leg outside a bookmaker's shop in Creggan.

Former first minister Arlene Foster blamed Sinn Féin for the stalled Northern Ireland talks. The Northern Ireland secretary James Brokenshire said that there would not be a snap election. They was a short window of opportunity for the two main parties to reach a deal over power sharing.

28th James Brokenshire said in front of the House of Commons that the UK government would consider all options after Easter, including direct rule if talked to form a Northern Ireland Executive failed.

Dorothy Johnson failed in her bid to overturn a decision not to order a fresh tribunal into the 1988 'Good Samaritan' bombing, in which her father died.

The Brexit Secretary David Davis clarified that a border poll in favour of a United Ireland would result in NI joining the EU.

Two men who had been detained over the bomb in Strabane the previous week were

29th British Prime Minister Theresa May said she wanted a 'frictionless' Irish border. She also said that the Tories were not neutral on Northern Ireland remaining part of the UK. 'We have a preference that Northern Ireland should remain part of the United Kingdom and we will never be neutral in expressing our support for that and that's because I believe fundamentally in the strength of our union.'

31st Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire said that he did not see a role for an independent mediator in the next round of Stormont talks.

A man was charged with attempted murder and possession of explosives related to a January incident in Irvinestown, Co. Fermanagh.

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April 2017

1st A man appeared in court over a bomb at Irvinestown on January 30th.

3rd Ian Paisley Junior said he would raise the issue of his father's bugging in parliament. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair denied that Paisley's phone had been bugged.

Party leaders met at Stormont. They had already missed one deadline for forming a power-sharing executive. Secretary of State James Brokenshire created a new deadline of 18th April, when Westminster returned from the Easter recess.

5th Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill said that talks aimed at establishing a new Northern Ireland Executive had made no progress.

7th Houses were evacuated over a security alert in Azalea Gardens, Twinbrook, in west Belfast. Controlled explosions were carried out on a car which had been linked to a robbery in Dunmurray. Houses were also evacuated in east Belfast but nothing suspicious was found.

9th The Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin, told worshippers that there was still hope of finding the remains of the Disappeared.

10th A coronor ruled that 15-year-old Manus Deery, who had been shot dead by the British army in 1972, had been innocent.

Ammunition and a handgun were seized by police in Cookstown, County Tyrone. Their condition suggested they had been buried for years.

Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill said they wanted an election if talks failed to form an exeutive by the 14th. The DUP responsed by accusing Sinn Féin of not being serious about meeting the deadline.

A security alert occurred at Belfast's Gasworks.

11th The Guardian reported that Stakeknife, a key British agent inside the IRA, had been linked to 18 murders and was provided an alibi by a senior police officer to prevent his arrest. It emerged on the BBC that the deputy directory of the Public Prosecutions Service, Pamea Atchison, had been asked to stay away from a decision not to prosecute Freddie Scappaticci for perjury.

It was reported that Stormont talks would take a break for Easter and resume afterwards, extending the deadline.

12th Secretary of State James Brokenshire warned that if no agreement was reached at Stormont by early May, there would either be an election or direct rule.

The Guardian warned that Britain was not taking the Irish dimension in Brexit seriously enough.

A Polish family was targetted in a 'hate crime attack'.

13th Sinn Féin welcomed Arlene Foster of the DUP's decision to meet Irish speakers. She had said she was willing to 'listen to and engage with those from the Gaelic Irish background, those without the party political background'.

14th A senior DUP negotiator suggested that James Brokenshire wanted the partial transfer of some devolved government departments back to London if discussions 'ran out of road'.

British veterans protested against what they saw as a disproportionate emphasis on prosecuting former soldiers over killings in the conflict.

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