Founded in 1970 from the New Ulster Movement, the Alliance Party originally represents moderate and non-sectarian unionism. However, over time, particularly in the 1990s, it moves towards neutrality on the Union, and has come to represent wider liberal and non-sectarian concerns. It supports the Good Friday Agreement but maintains a desire for the reform of the political system toward a non-sectarian future. In the Northern Ireland Assembly, it is designated as neither unionist nor Irish nationalist, but “Other.”
To seek to achieve unity among the Irish people on the issue of restoring national sovereignty and to promote the revolutionary ideals of republicanism and to this end involve itself in resisting all forms of colonialism and imperialism.
To seek the immediate and unconditional release of all Irish republican prisoners throughout the world.
The organisation is founded on December 7, 1997, at a meeting of like-minded Irish republicans in the Dublin suburb of Finglas. Those present are opposed to the direction taken by Sinn Féin and other mainstream republican groups in the Northern Ireland peace process, which eventually leads to the Good Friday Agreement, also known as the Belfast Agreement, the following year. The same division in the republican movement leads to the paramilitary group now known as the Real IRA breaking away from the Provisional Irish Republican Army at around the same time.
Most of the 32CSM’s founders had been members of Sinn Féin, with some having been expelled from the party for challenging the leadership’s direction, while others felt they had not been properly able to air their concerns within Sinn Féin at the direction its leadership had taken. Bernadette Sands McKevitt, wife of Michael McKevitt and a sister of hunger strikerBobby Sands, is a prominent member of the group until a split in the organisation.
Before the referendums on the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the 32CSM lodges a legal submission with the United Nations challenging British sovereignty in Ireland. The referendums are opposed by the 32CSM but are supported by 71% of voters in Northern Ireland and by 94% in the Republic of Ireland. It is reported in February 2000 that the group had established a “branch” in Kilburn, London.
In November 2005, the 32CSM launches a political initiative titled Irish Democracy, A Framework for Unity.
On May 24, 2014, Gary Donnelly, a member of the 32CSM, is elected to the Derry and Strabane super council. In July 2014, a delegation from the 32CSM travels to Canada to take part in a six-day speaking tour. On arrival the delegation is detained and refused entry into Canada.
In 2015, the 32CSM organises a demonstration in Dundee, Scotland, in solidarity with the men convicted of shooting Constable Stephen Carroll, the first police officer to be killed in Northern Ireland since the formation of the PSNI. The organisation says the “Craigavon Two” are innocent and are victims of a miscarriage of justice.
The 32CSM also operates outside of the island of Ireland to some extent. The Gaughan/Stagg Cumann covers England, Scotland and Wales, and has an active relationship of mutual promotion with a minority of British left-wing groups and anti-fascist organisations. The James Larkin Republican Flute Band in Liverpool and the West of Scotland Band Alliance, the largest section of which is the Glasgow-based Parkhead Republican Flute Band, are also supporters of the 32CSM. As of 2014, the 32CSM’s alleged paramilitary wing, the Real IRA, is reported to still be involved in attempts to perpetrate bombings in Britain as part of the dissident Irish republican campaign, which has been ongoing since 1998.
The 32CSM is currently considered a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) in the United States, because it is considered to be inseparable from the Real IRA, which is designated as an FTO. At a briefing in 2001, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of State states that “evidence provided by both the British and Irish governments and open-source materials demonstrate clearly that the individuals who created the Real IRA also established these two entities to serve as the public face of the Real IRA. These alias organizations engage in propaganda and fundraising on behalf of and in collaboration with the Real IRA.” The U.S. Department of State’s designation makes it illegal for Americans to provide material support to the Real IRA, requires U.S. financial institutions to block the group’s assets and denies alleged Real IRA members travel visas into the United States.
The BBC‘s Northern Ireland correspondent says the historic trip is intended as a gesture to reassure the province’s unionists, while at the same time trying not to alienate the nationalist population.
The Queen is invited to Armagh by the authorities to present the royal charter renewing Armagh’s status as a city.
In her speech, the Queen addresses all the people of Northern Ireland. She says, “For many difficult years the people of Northern Ireland have shown courage and compassion of an extraordinary kind. Today as they begin to look towards a more peaceful future, Armagh with its two great cathedrals standing so close together presents a powerful symbol of the strength spirit and hopes of people across Northern Ireland.”
Cardinal Cahal Daly says the Queen’s visit is a tribute to the progress made in the peace process since the IRA ceasefire came into effect on August 31, 1994.
Arbishop Robin Eames says, “Look how far we’ve come in a year. It’s a message of symbolism. Be patient, we’ve a long, long way to go but today is one little part of that jigsaw.”
Hendron says, “Things are different now. People must stand up and be counted. You can’t hide in your home. There are two communities here and I think it’s important to go out and shake hands with people like the Queen and from my point of view, she’s very welcome.”
In a March 4, 2008, announcement, the Rev. Ian Paisley signals the end of an era by announcing he will retire as First Minister of Northern Ireland. He also confirms he is stepping down as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the party he founded in the early 1970s. The news represents a huge moment in the politics and recent history of Northern Ireland, removing from the scene as it does one of its most striking figures.
The 81-year-old announces he will quit both posts following an international investment conference in Belfast in May 2008 but will remain as an MP and Assembly member.
“I came to this decision a few weeks ago when I was thinking very much about the conference and what was going come after the conference,” Paisley tells Ulster Television. “I thought that it is a marker, a very big marker and it would be a very appropriate time for me to bow out.”
Paisley denies he is leaving in part over allegations that his son, Ian Paisley Jr., lobbied Downing Street on behalf of a wealthy party member. He says his son has been “wrongly accused.” He is also weakened over defeat in a recent by-election – an indication that a section of the DUP’s electorate is uneasy about his historic decision to share power with Sinn Féin.
Significantly, Paisley does not back any contender in the DUP leadership contest to succeed him. “This is not the Church of Rome. I have no right to say who will succeed me. I will not be like Putin in Russia saying to the president – ‘this is the way you have to go.’ When I make a break it will be [a] break.”
Paisley defends his decision to enter into government with Sinn Féin. “It was the right thing to do because it was the only thing to do to save us from a united Ireland. We were threatened that we would be more Irish in our rulership, that there would be more Dublin say in government. That was what the British government threatened. We managed to put that to a rest.”
“We have laid to rest that and republicans have come to see that they have to put up with Paisley and his clan. We took what was meant for our destruction and turned it into our salvation.”
Speaking from Dubai the previous night, the deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, says, “It wasn’t unexpected. It was the right decision to go into sharing power with Sinn Féin which changed the politics of Ireland forever.”
The Sinn Féin MP describes Paisley as “courageous” for agreeing to enter into the power-sharing government. “We have had a positive and constructive working relationship,” McGuinness said.
Paisley’s fiercest critic within unionism, the ex-DUP MEP, Jim Allister, claims opposition to his power-sharing with Sinn Féin and his relationship with McGuinness means that Paisley “jumped before he was pushed.”
Allister’s new party, Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV), split the DUP vote in a by-election in February 2008 and cost the party a council seat in County Down. It was Paisley’s first electoral test since he agreed to share power with Sinn Féin following the St. Andrews Agreement at the end of 2006.
Robinson serves in the role of General Secretary of the DUP from 1975, a position he holds until 1979 and which affords him the opportunity to exert unprecedented influence within the fledgeling party. In 1977, he is elected as a councillor for the Castlereagh Borough Council in Dundonald, County Down, and in 1979, he becomes one of the youngest Members of Parliament (MP) when he is narrowly elected for Belfast East. He holds this seat until his defeat by Naomi Long in 2010, making him the longest-serving Belfast MP since the Acts of Union 1800.
In January 2010, following a scandal involving his wife Iris (née Collins), Robinson temporarily hands over his duties as First Minister to Arlene Foster under the terms of the Northern Ireland Act 2006. Following a police investigation, which recommends that he should not be prosecuted following allegations made by the BBC in relation to the scandal, he resumes his duties as First Minister. The Official Assembly Commissioner’s Investigation and Report clears Robinson of any wrongdoing.
In September 2015, Robinson again stands aside to allow Arlene Foster to become acting First Minister after his bid to adjourn the assembly is rejected. His action is a response to a murder for which a member of Sinn Féin, a party in the Northern Ireland Executive, had been questioned. He resumes his duties on October 20, 2015. On November 19, 2015, he announces that he will be stepping down as First Minister and as leader of the DUP. He subsequently steps down as First Minister on January 11, 2016 and is now fully retired from frontline politics.
Robinson is the author of a number of books and pamphlets on local politics and history including: Capital Punishment for Capital Crime (1974), Savagery and Suffering (1975), Ulster the Facts (1981), Self-Inflicted (1981), A War to be Won (1983), It’s Londonderry (1984), Carson – Man of Action (1984), Ulster in Peril (1984), Their Cry was no Surrender (1986), Hands Off the UDR (1990), Sinn Féin – A Case for Proscription (1993), The Union Under Fire (1995), Give Me Liberty (no date), Ulster—the Prey (no date).
As the hardline Ulster Unionists express reluctance to support the current stance of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) leadership, Trimble is bidding to win over crucial support for his campaign to be re-elected as First Minister.
Although the meeting of the UUP’s executive over the previous weekend endorses Trimble’s return to office in the Northern Ireland Assembly, the re-election bid can be thwarted by a failure to win grassroots support.
At least two Assembly Members express grave reservations about supporting Trimble’s re-election as First Minister, and anti-agreement factions within the UUP call a meeting of the party’s ruling council to be held within the next three weeks.
While it is anticipated that the elections of the First and Deputy First Ministers will be held later in the week, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) calls on its members to prepare for Assembly elections. The anti-Good Friday Agreement DUP anticipate a collapse of the power-sharing Assembly if the re-elections of top ministerial posts fail to return a quorum of support from the Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA). The DUP says that meetings are to be held on October 29 to discuss the party’s strategy.
After the Ulster Unionist party split in 1974 over the Sunningdale Agreement, Dickson joins the newly formed Unionist Party of Northern Ireland along with other supporters of former Northern Ireland prime minister Brian Faulkner. She retains her seat in South Antrim in the 1975 constitutional convention election. After the retirement of Brian Faulkner in 1976 she becomes leader of the Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, becoming the first woman to lead a major political party in Northern Ireland.
In 1979 Dickson contests the Belfast North constituency in the Westminster election, polling 10% of the vote, the best performance by a UPNI candidate in Northern Ireland, however her intervention is sufficient to split the moderate Unionist vote resulting in the seat being gained by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
The Unionist Party of Northern Ireland disbands in 1981 after poor results in the local government elections and Dickson retires from active politics. Subsequently she is chair of the Northern Ireland Consumer Council from 1985 to 1990.
The Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) announces a ceasefire on August 31, 1994, after a quarter century of what it calls its “armed struggle” to get the British out of Northern Ireland. The statement comes just after 11:00 a.m. BST and says there will be a “complete cessation of military operations” from midnight and that the organisation is willing to enter into inclusive talks on the political future of the Province.
The statement raises hopes for peace and an end to 25 years of bombing and shooting that led to the deaths of more than 3,000 people. There is scepticism from the loyalist community and celebration in the Catholic areas of Belfast and Derry.
But loyalists are suspicious of the declaration and fear it may lead to a sell-out in which Northern Ireland’s position within the United Kingdom is under threat. The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) MPJames Molyneaux says no moves towards talks should begin until the IRA has added the word “permanent” to the ceasefire declaration.
The announcement comes 18 months after secret talks began between the British Government and Irish republicans. It leads to the Anglo-Irish Downing Street Declaration in December 1993 which states that any change in the partition of Ireland can only come with the consent of those living north of the border. It also challenges republicans to renounce violence.
Ian Paisley, leader of the hardline Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), rejects the wording of the declaration and says it is an “insult to the people [the IRA] has slaughtered because there was no expression of regret.”
Seven weeks later, on October 13, the loyalist terrorist groups announce their own ceasefire. On December 9, British officials meet Sinn Féin representatives for their first formal talks in 22 years.
The IRA ceasefire ends on February 9, 1996 when it plants a huge bomb in the London Docklands. It kills two, injures more than 100 and causes more than £85m of damage.
A new ceasefire is finally announced in July 1997.
(Pictured: (L to R) Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, Taoiseach Albert Reynolds and Social Democratic and Labour Party leader John Hume)
In Bangor, County Down, a group of loyalist protesters put up a Union Flag outside the offices of Sinn Féin education minister Martin McGuinness at his department’s Rathgael House headquarters. Another group of PUP protesters demonstrate at government buildings in Adelaide Street in Belfast city centre, where the Union Flag is flying above two of the government buildings in the street.
The PUP’s Billy Hutchinson criticises Sinn Féin ministers over their refusal to fly the Union Flag. “These people cannot even recognise that we have a monarch who’s 100 years old and they can’t even fly the flag, just because they think that everything that is British is no good,” he says. “These people forget that they have lived in Britain all their lives, most of them. They weren’t even born at Partition (of Ireland).” He adds that Sinn Féin’s ministers should accept that they are “British ministers in a British state.”
However, Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey condemns the protests as “intimidating and sectarian.” He says Sinn Féin’s position on the flying of flags is designed not to cause offence. “Where British cultural and political symbols are invoked in public life, equivalent Irish cultural and political symbols should be given equal prominence. Where this cannot be agreed, no such symbols should fly,” he says.
The issue of flags has been emotive and divisive in Northern Ireland. The Sinn Féin ministers anger unionists on May 2 by ordering their civil servants not to fly the flag as part of the Coronation Day celebrations. The row reaches a head when the anti-agreement Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) attempts to guarantee the flying of the Union Flag with an assembly motion in June. However, the party fails to win enough support for their motion to be passed.
There are about 13 days in the year when the Union Flag is flown on designated government offices in the United Kingdom. Government buildings across the UK – from Whitehall ministries to town council offices are expected to raise the Union Flag on these days.
It is the second time in a week that the health minister has run into controversy. On Wednesday, August 2, she is confronted by angry loyalist protesters during an official visit to a County Antrim hospital. Around 20 demonstrators picket the Lagan Valley Hospital in Lisburn, while she is on a visit to see a GP scheme as part of a programme to learn about aspects of the health service. The tyres on the minister’s car are let down and an egg is thrown. De Brun is forced to leave the complex by another door.
(From: “Trimble joins Union Flag row,” BBC News, news.bbc.co.uk, Friday, August 4, 2000 | Pictured: Protesters picket the Department of Health)
Paisley is born on April 6, 1926, in Armagh, County Antrim. He becomes a Protestant evangelical minister in 1946 and remains one for the rest of his life. In 1951, he co-founds the fundamentalist Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster and is its leader until 2008. He becomes known for his fiery speeches and regularly preaches and protests against Catholicism, ecumenism and homosexuality. He gains a large group of followers who are referred to as “Paisleyites.”
Paisley becomes involved in Ulster unionist/loyalist politics in the late 1950s. In the mid-late 1960s he leads and instigates loyalist opposition to the Catholic civil rights movement in Northern Ireland. This leads to the outbreak of the Troubles in the late 1960s, a conflict that engulfs Northern Ireland for the next thirty years. In 1970, he becomes Member of Parliament for North Antrim and the following year he founds the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which he leads for almost forty years. In 1979, he becomes a Member of the European Parliament.
In 2005, Paisley’s DUP becomes the largest unionist party in Northern Ireland, displacing the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), which has dominated unionist politics since 1905. In 2007, following the St. Andrews Agreement, the DUP finally agrees to share power with republican party Sinn Féin and consent to all-Ireland governance in certain matters. He and Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness become First Minister and deputy First Minister respectively in May 2007. He steps down as First Minister and DUP leader in May 2008 and leaves politics in 2011. He is made a life peer in 2010 as Baron Bannside.
In November 2011, Paisley announces to his congregation that he is retiring as a minister. He delivers his final sermon to a packed attendance at the Martyrs’ Memorial Hall on December 18, 2011, and finally retires from his religious ministry on January 27, 2012.
Paisley dies in Belfast on September 12, 2014. He is buried in Ballygowan, County Down on September 15 following a private funeral and a public memorial for 800 invited guests is held in the Ulster Hall on October 19. A New York Times obituary reports that late in life Paisley had moderated and softened his stances against Roman Catholics but that “the legacies of fighting and religious hatreds remained.”