Irish Republican News · December 29, 2006
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Review of the Year 2006
Review of the Year 2006
A look back at the major events in Irish politics and the peace process over the past twelve months.

JANUARY

The year begins with fears of a fresh unionist paramilitary feud after a prominent loyalist is murdered.

Former unionist paramilitary negotiator and LVF prisoner Lindsay Robb is stabbed 22 times outside a shop in the east end of Glasgow, Scotland.

It later emerges that an ex-soldier killed the one-time loyalist gun-runner in a fight over a minor drug debt. He is jailed for seven years.

British Direct Ruler Peter Hain bows to pressure and scraps controversial ‘on-the-runs’ legislation but tells assembly members their salaries could be under threat if there is no progress towards devolution. The DUP refuses to share power with Sinn Féin for the “foreseeable future”.

FEBRUARY

In Dublin 42 people are arrested after rioting during the so-called ‘Love Ulster’ parade, organised by unionist extremists.

Violent clashes with Gardai police are later blamed on the spontanous reaction of local Dublin youths to the march, which fails to pass down O’Connell street.

President Mary McAleese’s husband Martin holds secret talks with UDA representatives in Belfast.

A 49-year-old man is bludgeoned to death by the UDA in an alleyway in Carrickfergus, County Antrim. Thomas Hollran’s was killed for defying UDA threats to stay out of the town.

MARCH

A farm on the south Armagh/County Louth border owned by former IRA chief of staff Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy is among properties raided by gardai and the PSNI in a massive cross-border operation.

In north Belfast leading loyalist Ihab Shoukri is among more than a dozen men arrested after PSNI raid a bar during a UDA ‘show of strength’.

Basque separatist group ETA announces a permanent end to its armed campaign.

APRIL

Four months after admitting to being a long-time British agent, former Sinn Féin official Denis Donaldson is shot dead in a remote County Donegal cottage.

The murder sends shockwaves through the political world amid speculation about who is responsible.

Days later British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern arrive in the North of Ireland to unveil their blueprint for restoring devolution, recalling a ‘shadow’ assembly and giving politicians a deadline of November 24 to set up a power-sharing executive.

MAY

There is revulsion across the community after Michael McIlveen (15), a Catholic, is attacked and dies in Ballymena, County Antrim.

His death focuses attention on continuing sectarian violence against Catholics, particulary in the north Antrim area.

Former UVF leader and police agent Mark Haddock is shot and seriously injured while out on bail over an attack on doorman Trevor Gowdy four years earlier.

Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan has been investigating claims that Haddock was involved in a series of murders in north Belfast while acting as an agent.

JUNE

Nationalists express anger at a decision to allow the controversial Whiterock Orange Order parade to go ahead in west Belfast despite serious rioting the previous year.

The death of former 26-County Taoiseach Charles Haughey (80) after a long illness sparks debate about the legacy of the most controversial Irish politician of his generation.

Controversial cleric Monsignor Denis Faul dies at 74.

JULY

The marching season passed by largely without incident. A contentious Orange Order parade through Ardoyne in north Belfast passed off peacefully.

Minor incidents took place as the parade passed close to the shop fronts - a traditional flashpoint - but fears of widespread violence proved to be unfounded.

However, despite the peaceful marching season, new figures revealed that sectarian attacks had risen by 35 per cent in a year.

AUGUST

The Real IRA claimed responsibility for firebomb attacks in Newry. Firebombs destroyed four stores in the town.

SEPTEMBER

The non-jury Omagh Bomb trial finally began with Sean Hoey going on trial accused of the Real IRA 1998 bombing following a delay of three weeks, and three years after his initial arrest.

Leading Sinn Féin assembly member Michael Ferguson died suddenly from cancer at the age of just 53.

Mr Ferguson was an assembly member for West Belfast and the party’s education spokesman. The father-of-four, an active republican for most of his adult life, had been receiving treatment for testicular cancer for some time.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern came under pressure after he admitted he was being investigated by a tribunal examining allegations of corrupt payments to politicians in the 26 Counties.

It was reported that the Mahon Tribunal had written to three of four business people concerning payments to Mr Ahern totalling between Euro 50,000 and Euro 100,000 and used to pay legal bills during 1993.

OCTOBER

The prospect of a political deal that could result in the DUP sharing power with nationalists and Sinn Féin supporting policing emerged out of the St Andrews talks in Scotland.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said: “We have a plan now - and a plan which we hope is agreeable, that will bring us to the restoration of the political institutions and bring government back to the people of Northern Ireland.”

Dissident Republicans stepped up their activity. They claimed responsibility for firebomb attacks on a number of stores in Belfast and Coleraine.

NOVEMBER

Michael Stone stole the headlines in November. The notorious loyalist killer launched an armed attack at the Belfast Assembly.

Stone arrived armed with a gun, a knife and pipe bombs but was stopped and disarmed at a revolving door.

Stormont’s Parliament Buildings were evacuated minutes after DUP leader Ian Paisley blankly refused to accept his designation as future First Minister, throwing the peace process into a crisis.

A group of 12 DUP dissenters emerged to insist on a hard line approach for the party.

Paisley later issued a statement which was interpreted as a conditional acceptance of a future designation, allowing the process to continue.

DECEMBER

An attempt to halt the Omagh trial failed, despite the discrediting of forensic evidence and the perjury of police witnesses.

Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams began a process to win his party’s support for the PSNI police.

© 2006 Irish Republican News