gerry-adamsThe Good Friday Peace process in Northern Ireland was collapsing. David Trimble, who won the Nobel Peace Prize and was elected the first minister of the fragile new government there, resigned in disgust. Britain threatened to pull the plug from the power-sharing experiment that brought home rule to the war-weary Protestants and Catholics.

Then, on October 23 the Irish Republican Army (IRA) announced the long-awaited disposal of a significant amount of the paramilitary group’s weapons and an independent international disarmament commission confirmed that guns, ammunition, and explosives were extinguished.

Trimble, long beleaguered over the arms impasse, smiled broadly after seeing the proof: “This is the day we were told would never happen.”

Within hours of the move, the IRA’s opponent reciprocated with its own concessions. The British government will begin the withdrawal of British troops from Northern Ireland and is demolishing two military observation towers and dismantling two other facilities in the region. Britain called the IRA’s move “unprecedented and genuinely historic, taking the peace process to a new level.”

Trimble was restored as leader of the majority Protestant government. Catholics, including Sinn Fein, the IRA representative, joined him to continue hammering out a lasting peace within a representative government. (Oct. 2001)

Photo: Gerry Adams, President of the Sinn Féin political party

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