Power-sharing 1973-1974

Widespread protests followed the implementation of the Sunningdale AgreementWidespread protests followed the implementation of the Sunningdale Agreement

After the British Government closed Stormont, they decided to replace it with a new Assembly and Executive.

There were a number of new elements to this new system:

  • The members of the Assembly would be elected using proportional representation.
  • The Executive members would come from both unionist and nationalist political parties.
  • There would be an Irish Dimension in the form of a Council of Ireland that would allow politicians from North and South to meet and discuss issues relevant to both parts of the island.

In addition, the British government would keep power over security and justice in Northern Ireland.


As usual, there were very different reactions to the British government’s plans.

Unionist politicians were divided by the proposed solution:

  • Former Prime Minister Brian Faulkner supported the plans and some of his party members agreed with his position.
  • Many unionists – including the rest of Faulkner’s party, the DUP and the new Vanguard Unionist Progressive Party (set up by William Craig to oppose power-sharing) - were angry at the plans. These different groups came together to form the United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC). The plan was to oppose the plans for power sharing and an Irish Dimension.

Nationalist politicians were generally happy with the plans for a power sharing Assembly and Executive.