IRA ceasefire anniversary: Northern Ireland then and now
- 31 August 2014
- From the section Northern Ireland
Twenty years on from the IRA's ceasefire, BBC News NI looks at how life in Northern Ireland has changed.
Northern Ireland's towns and cities were regularly bombed by the IRA during the Troubles. These two images show both the aftermath of bombs and how the scenes look today.
City centre 'ring of steel'
During the Troubles, shoppers in Belfast had to pass through security gates to enter Royal Avenue, one of the city's main shopping streets. Bags would often be searched for explosives by police. The gates would be closed every evening at 6pm.
When the IRA put its weapons beyond use in 2005, moves began within weeks to transform the security landscape. Work began to demolish watchtowers and bases, and in August 2007 the British army's emergency operation in Northern Ireland came to an end. Lasting 38 years, Operation Banner was the Army's longest continuous campaign in its history.
South Armagh was referred to by many as "Bandit Country" because of its reputation for lawlessness. The area, adjacent to the border with the Republic of Ireland, was considered so dangerous that troops and police officers could not travel by road, and had to be flown in and out by helicopter. For republicans, these bases were a blight on the landscape, a symbol of everything they opposed, and they were repeatedly targeted.
In 1990, Londonderry civilian army worker Patsy Gillespie was told to drive a bomb to the checkpoint at Coshquin near the border, while his family was held hostage. The bomb was detonated by remote control, killing Mr Gillespie and five soldiers. A memorial marks the spot where it happened.
Police stations were frequent IRA targets
More than 300 police officers were killed during the Troubles, the vast majority by the IRA, and more than 11,000 others were injured. One of the most dramatic changes over the past 20 years has been in policing. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) is gone, most republicans now support the police, and more than 30% of the new Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) are Catholics.
Bomb damage and regeneration
Many towns across Northern Ireland were bombed by the IRA during the Troubles.
Photos by Peter Hamill and Margaret O'Neill