1998 in Ireland

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Ireland seen through Europe symbol
Ireland and Europe

January: The Vocational Educational Committees of Bray, Drogheda, Tralee, Sligo and Wexford were abolished.

On the 12th, the British and Irish governments published The Propositions of Heads of Agreement in attempt to push foward peace talks in Northern Ireland.

On the 14th, the Planning Tribunal opened at Dublin Castle.

February: The Republic of Ireland qualified for the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union.

March: On the 15th, former Fine Gael TD Hugh Coveney died after falling from a cliff in Cork.

April:  On the 10th of April, the Good Friday Agreement was signed by all parties in Northern Ireland with the exception of the DUP, together with the British and Irish governments. Six days later, an opinion poll in Northern Ireland indicated that 73% approved of the Agreement.

The Northern Ireland Forum held its final meeting on the 24th.
Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair at the Good Friday summit
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern with British PM Tony Blair

The Alliance Party: for the Good Friday Agreement

The DUP: Against the Good Friday Agreement
Campaigning for and against the Good Friday Agreement

May: On the 7th it was confirmed that a new republican group, opposed to the GFA, had been formed: the Real IRA. Three days later, Sinn Féin ended their abstentionism from the British House of Commons.

On the 20th, Tony Blair pledged that there would be no change in the status of Northern Ireland without the consent of its people.

The Good Friday Agreement was endorsed by a referendum in both the North and the Republic on the 22nd.

June: Elections were held on the 25th for the Northern Ireland Assembly.
The UUP won 28 seats, the SDLP 24, the DUP 20 and Sinn Féin 18. The UUP's relatively weak showing caused divisions with the party.

July: On the 1st, the first meeting of the 'Shadow Assembly' took place. David Trimble was elected First Minister designate of Northern Ireland, with the SDLP's Seamus Mallon as Deputy First Minister.

The Drumcree Parade led to violence for the fourth year in a row.

Three Catholic children, Richard, Mark and Jason Quinn, were killed in a sectarian petrol bombing by Loyalists.

August: On the 15th the Real IRA exploded a bomb in Omagh which killed 28 civilians outright, a 29th dying later. The RIRA suspended military operations and the INLA declared a ceasefire later that month. British Prime Minister Tony Blair visited Omagh, promising harsh measures against paramilitaries. Sinn Féin called this 'internment in another guise'.

Aftermath of the Omagh bomb
The aftermath of the Omagh bomb
Minister for Northern Ireland Mo Mowlam with Bill Clinton
Secretary of State for NI Mo Mowlam with Bill Clinton
September: US President Bill Clinton made his second official visit to Ireland.

New emergency legislation was passed. In the UK, the
Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Bill went through, while in the Republic of Ireland the Offences Against The State (Amendment) Bill passed into law.

Gerry Adams and David Trimble held talks on the 10th. The following day saw the first paramilitary prisoners released under the Good Friday Agreement.

TV3 went on air on the 20th.

October: At the end of the month, the deadline was missed for the formation of the
Executive Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the North-South Ministerial Body.

November: On the 26th, Tony Blair became the first British Prime Minister to address the Oireachtas.

It was announced that unemployment had fallen by 20%.

December: Members of the Labour Party and Democratic Left agreed to merge.

Six new North-South administrative bodies were agreed after 18 hours of negotiations between the political parties of Northern Ireland.

On Boxing Day, Hurricane Stephen hit the west of Ireland causing disruption of services.

On the 31st, the Punt was traded for the last time as the Euro was launched.
Irish punt
The Punt: 1998 was its final year

Notable Deaths in Ireland

Name Date of death Age

Dermot Morgan February 28th 45 Actor and Comedian (Father Ted actor)
Hugh Coveney March 15th 62 Fine Gael TD and Cabinet Minister
Sybil Connolly May 6th 77 Fashion Designer
Jim Power May 22nd [103] Former Galway hurler
Kate Cruise O'Brien
May 26th
Maureen O'Sullivan June 23rd 87 Actress, film star
Paul O'Dwyer June 23rd 90 Irish-born American politician and lawyer
Robert Malachy Burke September 20th [91] Christian Socialist and philanthropist
Tommy Quaid October 10th 41 Sportsman
Paddy Clancy November 11th 76 Folk singer
Valerie Hobson November 13th 81 Actress
John David Gwynn November 21st 91 Cricketer
Cathal Goulding December 26th 75 Chief of Staff of the IRA and Official IRA

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