July 18th, 2006
Mixed Blessings
Timeline: Ireland 1900-2002
1900 With Irish nationalism at a high point, Sinn Féin is founded as a confederacy of local nationalist clubs.
1916 The Easter Rising. Nationalist leaders declare an independent republic but inspire little support among the Irish. The republic lasts only a week and results in the execution of its leaders and great destruction in Dublin.
1918 Sinn Féin wins a majority in the general election and establishes the first Dáil Éireann (Assembly of Ireland).
1919 The Irish War of Independence begins — a guerrilla campaign conducted by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) against the British administration.
1921 The Anglo-Irish Treaty is signed, ending the war. The Irish Free State, consisting of 26 predominantly Catholic counties, is established. Northern Ireland is formed of the remaining six counties, which are largely Protestant. This partition is intended as a temporary measure.
1922-23 A civil war is fought between groups who support and oppose the treaty. The measure remains in place, although the anti-treaty leaders will eventually become the Fianna Fáil (Soldiers of Destiny) party, which will come to dominate Irish politics.
1937 The Constitution of Ireland is adopted by referendum, establishing a parliamentary government.
1948 The Irish Free State officially becomes the Republic of Ireland.
1949 The Republic of Ireland Act passed; the republic is no longer a member of the British Commonwealth.
1958 First Programme for Economic Expansion dismantles protectionist policies and encourages foreign investment and free trade. The planned growth rate of two percent is surpassed and a four percent growth rate is achieved.
1965 Hoping to ease border tensions after IRA raids on British Army posts in Ulster, the prime ministers of Ireland and Northern Ireland exchange visits.
1973 Ireland joins the European Economic Community (EEC). The Fianna Fáil government is defeated by a coalition of Fine Gael (Gaelic Nation) and Labour Party leaders. The next decade will prove volatile, with power shifting between parties several times.
1980s The Irish economy is in severe decline, affected by the recent global recession and oil crisis, along with flagging agricultural prices, inflation, foreign debt, and high unemployment. Civil discontent rises, along with a resurgent IRA in the North.
1987 The Fianna Fáil government regains a majority and, with support from Fine Gael and the newly formed Progressive Democrat Party, embarks on a new economic policy that results in reduced inflation and budget deficits by the early 1990s.
1990 Mary Robinson of the Labour Party is elected as the first female Irish president, reflecting quickly evolving Irish attitudes. The economy booms throughout the decade, led by the high-tech sector.
1992 The Maastricht Treaty establishing the European Union (EU) is approved by a wide majority in Ireland. A referendum passes allowing women to travel overseas to obtain abortions.
1993 The Irish and British governments announce the Downing Street Declaration, pledging peaceful settlements of disputes between the governments.
1994 After further peace talks between the British and Irish governments, the IRA declares a ceasefire.
1995 Divorce is legalized, despite the efforts of the Catholic Church.
1998 The Belfast or “Good Friday” Agreement results in the disarming of paramilitary groups throughout North Ireland.
2002 Irish currency is replaced by the EU’s euro.

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