The Political Context
On 31 August 1994 the IRA declared an indefinite ceasefire. Loyalists followed suit just over one month later. This brought about a very significant change in our situation. It has given us an opportunity for a new start.
Nonetheless, our society cannot be described as being at peace. Violent attitudes and behaviour remain endemic and sectarianism continues to exercise a significant hold on many people. The loyalist and republican organisations continue to exist, their weapons have not been handed over, and punishment beatings occur on a daily basis. There are those who continue to have doubts as to whether the ceasefires will hold, while others wish to make rapid progress to all-party political talks.