Shortly after parliamentary elections in March 2007, Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, and Rev. Ian Paisley, the head of the Democratic Unionist Party, met face to face for the first time and hashed out an agreement for a power-sharing government. The historic deal was put into place in May, when Paisley and McGuinness were sworn in as leader and deputy leader, respectively, of the Northern Ireland executive government, thus ending direct rule from London.
On 21 December more than £26m is stolen from a bank in Belfast city centre. The IRA is suspected.
Northern Ireland has three commercial airports, with Belfast being the main gateway. A third airport operates in Derry.
What followed is known as the ‘war of independence’ when the Irish Republican Army – the army of the newly declared Irish Republic – waged a guerilla war against British forces from 1919 to 1921. One of the key leaders of this war was Michael Collins. In December 1921 a treaty was signed by the Irish and British authorities. While a clear level of independence was finally granted to Ireland the contents of the treaty were to split Irish public and political opinion. One of the sources of division was that Ireland was to be divided into Northern Ireland (6 counties) and the Irish Free State (26 counties) which was established in 1922.
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