Monday, November 9, 2009

A Summary of The Sunningdale Agreement and Power-Sharing Executive 1973-1974

~ 1972- Whitelaw(Northern Ireland Secretary) calls a meeting for all parties
~ Border Poll to ease Unionist worries: boycotted by Nationalists but Unionists
99% support for remaining part of the UK
~ White paper from Whitelaw has 4 key components: 1) Assembly 2) Executive 3) Council of Ireland 4) Guarantee that Northern Ireland remains part of UK as long as majority want it.
~ Split in Unionists: Faulkner leads Unionist Party supported by moderates and agree to White Paper must pledge their support now called “Pledged” Unionists”
~ Those Unionist against: Paisley and DUP, Craig and his Vanguard party, Orange Order and the “Unpledged” Unionists led by Harry West.
~ The Nationalist welcome White Paper with caution support from SDLP
~ Republicans reject it as it reinforces partition
~ Election results: 64% in favour of Power-Sharing, 36% against
~ All factions of Unionists results: 26 seats for anti-White Paper 24 seats for pro-White Paper
~ Faulkner now in a difficult position to unite Unionists within his own party and the more extreme Unionists.

~ Whitehall has great skill and patience as a negotiator
~ Faulkner wants a Unionist majority in the Executive
~ Council of Ireland agreed on and would have influence on policing and representatives from the Dail.
~ SDLP agree to end rate strike against internment
~ Whitelaw called back to London and replaced by Francis Pym, ( no experience)
~ 6th Dec. meet in Sunningdale, Berkshire
~ Liam Cosgrave, Taoiseach along with Garret Fitzgerald and Conor Cruise O Brien attend
~ John Hume from SDLP good negotiator for Nationalists- gets real power for the Council of Ireland which could open doors for a United Ireland at a later date
~ Prime Minister Heath chairs the meeting and quickly gets impatient with Unionists.
~ Irish Government agrees to give a verbal agreement on Northern Ireland remaining part of the UK as long as the majority wanted it.
~ Conference ends 9th Dec and that was the Sunningdale Agreement

~ 1ST JAN 1974, Faulkner as Chief Minister and Gerry Fitt (SDLP) as Deputy, power-sharing begins
~ Orange Order, DUP, Vanguard and Unpledged Unionists led by Harry West unite to form the United Ulster Unionist Council ( UUUC) is created to resist power-sharing and a Council of Ireland.
~ Faulkner resigns as leader of the Unionist party after a motion on the Council of Ireland fails to pass at a meeting. He is replaced by Harry West.
~ Faulkner sets up the Unionist Party of Northern Ireland
~ IRA and Loyalist attacks continue
~ Election called by Heath against the advice of the Executive who said it was bad timing
~ UUUC use election as a referendum on Sunningdale and put forward one anti-Agreement candidate in each constituency
~ UUUC win 11 out of 12 of the Westminster seats (Paisley, Craig and West all win)
~ Gerry Fitt the only pro-agreement candidate to win a seat.
~ In Britain, Heath (Conservative) loses the election and Wilson becomes PM (Labour )
~ Pym replaced by Meryln Rees as Northern Ireland Secretary (indecisive and not as committed a party)
~ Assembly remained despite violent and abusive behaviour from anti-agreement members

~ Northern Ireland industries employed predominantly protestant workers.
~ The Ulster Workers’ Council was a group of loyalist workers who worked in shipbuilding, engineering and electricity generation.
~ 15th May 1974, they called a strike
~ Loyalist paramilitaries became involved and workers were ‘persuaded’ not to return to work.
~ Road blockades were established and youths armed with clubs turned back lorries delivering milk, groceries or petrol.
~ Strikers managed to cut electricity out-put by 60% and more factories were forced to close.
~ The British Army and Police stood by and did nothing.
~ Many Protestants supported the strike.
~ The UWC did not alienate their own and made sure needed supplies got through to Protestant areas.
~ Loyalists were strongly suspected as being involved in bomb attacks in Dublin and Monaghan in May.
~ The Executive was isolated and had no control.
~ Rees the Northern Ireland Secretary failed to stop the strikes.
~ Faulkner tried to get the Dublin government to reduce the powers of the Council of Ireland and despite them agreeing to hold off implementing it was too late.
~ Hospitals were about to close and the Executive resigned.
~ The Power-Sharing Executive had ended in failure.

~ Northern Ireland Secretary Rees was unwilling to use the police and army to stop the strike.
~ The Labour party under Wilson who were in power were not as keen as the Conservatives about the Agreement.
~ The UWC strike brought the North to a halt.
~ The Council of Ireland was greatly feared by the Unionists as they believed it would lead to a United Ireland.


  1. Thanks for this Niamh - very useful. Welcome to Blogging!!

  2. helped alot with a history essay!
    much appreciated :)

  3. good videos miss very graphic tho :O
    luk forward to sein more!
    for the boys :L

  4. Réaltán here.
    I was a wee tike during the UWC strike. We had no electricity and had to use candles. We had one hot meal a day something quick like canned soup and sandwiches, because our cooker was electric and we only had a lend of a little camping gas ring and a tiny little canister of gas.

  5. mark here, thanks so much my history book is really bad and your getting me through my leaving cert.

  6. Thank you for this!

    I'm not studying for Leaving Cert, but am finding this very useful for my A-level History personal study! I just hope they'll let me cite it as a reference!

    Thanks again, Amy x

  7. thanks helped a lot in my history course work