David Trimble, the first minister and leader of the Ulster Unionist party, resigns on 1 July over lack of progress on the arms issue. In the following months, General John de Chastelain, the head of the body set up to oversee arms decommissioning, says the IRA has given him a disarmament plan . This fails to convince the unionists, and John Reid, the new Northern Ireland secretary, twice suspends the assembly to give time for talks. By October, De Chastelain says he has seen decommissioning taking place. The institutions are restored in November.
The Troubles, which started in the late 1960s, consisted of about thirty years of recurring acts of intense violence during which 3,254 people were killed  with over 50,000 casualties.  From 1969 to 2003 there were over 36,900 shooting incidents and over 16,200 bombings or attempted bombings associated with The Troubles.  The conflict was caused by the disputed status of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom and the discrimination against the Irish nationalist minority by the dominant unionist majority.  From 1967 to 1972 the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA), which modelled itself on the US civil rights movement, led a campaign of civil resistance to anti-Catholic discrimination in housing, employment, policing, and electoral procedures. The franchise for local government elections included only rate-payers and their spouses, and so excluded over a quarter of the electorate. While the majority of disenfranchised electors were Protestant, but Catholics were over-represented since they were poorer and had more adults still living in the family home.