1990: The year that was

State papers released under the 30-year rule cover a 12-month period that included a World Cup and a presidential election

January 1st: Ireland begins a six-month presidency of the European Community.

January 8th: Sinead O'Connor releases her second album which includes the hit single Nothing Compares 2 U.

February 11th: Anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela is released from prison in South Africa after 27 years behind bars.

April 1st: The poll tax takes effect in England and Wales amid widespread protests.


May 17th: The World Health Organisation declassifies homosexuality as a mental disorder. The date is now celebrated as International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

May 18th: East Germany and West Germany sign a treaty to merge their economic and social systems.

June 11th: The Republic of Ireland begin their first appearance at a Fifa World Cup with a 1-1 draw against England in Cagliari, Italy.

June 15th: The Dublin Convention is signed, setting in law EU rules on asylum applications.

June 20th: The Irish pound coin was introduced into circulation replacing the pound note.

July 1st: Huge crowds greet the Republic of Ireland team on their return from the World Cup. On the same day, former South African president Nelson accepts the Freedom of the City of Dublin at an open-air ceremony outside the Mansion House.

July 24th: The IRA kill three policemen and a nun in a bomb attack near Armagh.

July 30th: British politician and former MP Ian Gow is assassinated by a Provisional IRA car bomb outside his home in England.

August: Roddy Doyle's novel The Snapper, second of The Barrytown Trilogy, is published.

August 2nd: Iraq invades Kuwait, triggering the Gulf War.

August 24th: Writer Brian Keenan is released after 1,574 days in captivity in Beirut.

September 21st: This first episode of Winning Streak on RTÉ was broadcast in conjunction with the National Lottery. The presenter is Mike Murphy.

September 21st: Jim Sheridan's film The Field is released featuring Richard Harris in the role of "Bull" McCabe.

October 24th: Patsy Gillespie, a Catholic man, is strapped into a car and forced to drive an IRA car bomb into a British army checkpoint where it is detonated, killing him and five British soldiers.

November 9th: Mary Robinson is elected the seventh president of Ireland. She is inaugurated the following month as the first woman to hold the office.

November 22: Margaret Thatcher announces she will not contest the second ballot of the leadership election for the Conservative Party. She is succeeded by John Major.