Sunningdale Agreement Summary

The agreement is expected to anger the parties to the separation of powers excluded from the talks. In summary, it is certainly easy to see how the events of the months leading up to the Sunningdale Conference have fostered the defence and tenacity of the Unionist community in the face of what has been perceived as a permanent erosion of its autonomy and control over affairs in Northern Ireland. Indeed, subsequent events such as the loyalist strike of the Ulster Workers` Council in May 1974 were the physical manifestation of such frustrations. Perhaps moving note, in which a discussion of the first « peace process » is left, would be to make comparisons with its successor of the 1990s, culminating in the Good Friday Agreement, some of its principal architects being malevolent opponents of Sunningdale. It was this undeniable irony that led SDLP High Representative Seamus Mallon to call the Good Friday Agreement « Sunningdale for Slow Learners. » [18] These issues were resolved, at least in theory, by the Sunningdale Agreement. This agreement, signed in December 1973, created three political bodies: a proportionally elected Northern Ireland Assembly, an executive government with power shared by nationalists and unionists, and a « Council of Ireland » composed of delegates from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. British Prime Minister Edward Heath, Irish Prime Minister Liam Cosgrave and representatives of the Ulster Unionist Party, the Social Democratic and Labour Party and the Northern Ireland Alliance signed the agreement in Sunningdale, Berkshire. Within weeks, his opponents had used the early Westminster election in February as a referendum on Sunningdale: and worse for Faulkner, the election campaign took place at the time of the « maximum weakness » of the agreement, as one Irish councillor put it. In March 1974, trade union supporters withdrew their support for the agreement and asked the Republic of Ireland to repeal Articles 2 and 3 of its Constitution (these articles would not be revised until after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement). The Sunningdale Agreement was an attempt to create a Northern Ireland executive and a cross-border council of Ireland. Signed on December 12, 1973 at Sunningdale Park in Sunningdale, Berkshire. [1] The Unionist opposition, violence and a general loyalist strike led to the failure of the agreement in May 1974.

Another event that, in the summer of 1972, became a bee on the Unionist hood, was the revelation that Northern Ireland`s Foreign Minister, William Whitelaw, had had political discussions with senior officials of the Provisional IRA. Although no agreement was reached, the discussions, widely criticized in many quarters, again attracted the paranoia of the Unionists « which fuelled their traditional fear that Britain would betray them ». [4] It is undeniable that the aforementioned events of 1972 contributed significantly to the increase in membership and violent attacks by loyalist paramilitary organizations and participated in the strike of the United Loyalist Council, led by William Craig, in February 1973, whose main objective was to « restore some sort of Protestant or loyalist control over provincial affairs ». [5] Cosgrave and Irish ministers urged labour ministers to quickly ratify Sunningdale. Rees reported that some of Faulkner`s supporters said, « Everything is lost. The party`s over. Further defections were expected. And Rees stressed a traditional British concern that security was « a must before signing the agreement. » Something must have come from Dublin. The Government of Ireland Act 1920 provided for an Irish Council, but these provisions had never been adopted. The Unionists were furious at any « interference » by the Republic of Ireland in its newly created region. In 1973, following an agreement on the formation of an executive, an agreement was reached on the reintroduction of an Irish Council to promote cooperation with the Republic of Ireland.

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