What Is The Sunningdale Agreement

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The Sunningdale Agreement was an attempt to establish a Northern Irish power-sharing executive and a cross-border council of Ireland. The agreement was signed on 9 December 1973 at Sunningdale Park in Sunningdale, Berkshire. [1] Unionist opposition, violence and a loyalist general strike led to the failure of the agreement in May 1974. Meanwhile, the anti-Sunningdale trade unionists realized that democratic means would not lead them to their demand for the abolition of the agreement. In 1974, loyalist paramilitary groups and many anti-Sunningdale politicians joined the small Ulster Workers` Council. The council began to organize actions against the government. They warned the assembly that if they refused to abolish the Sunningdale Agreement, they would organize a strike. On the 14th. In May 1974, the assembly voted to ignore the UWC`s request and a general strike was called. Known as the workers` general strike, it has been the worst economic event in Northern Ireland in recent years. The power plants were shut down when the workers left and, as a result, no other industry could be operated. Gasoline workers went on strike, the province ran out of oil, and soon cars became useless. Strikers also blocked roads and travel became impossible.

Social security offices were closing and it was often impossible to receive unemployment benefits. Only a handful of stores in the province remained open. After a week, the government began to realize the gravity of the situation and tried to get the workers back to work. However, the strike soon received the support of most trade unionists. When British Prime Minister Harold Wilson launched a scathing attack on the strikers in a speech on May 25, demanding to know, «Who do these people think they are?» it only increased the resolve of the unionists. Even the army was not able to break the strike. It also rejected the Sunningdale Agreement of 1973, which proposed the creation of an Irish Cross-Border Council to oversee a limited range of economic and cultural affairs in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The agreement led to a criling general strike by Protestant trade unionists in 1974 – the DUP.

There were provisions for a Council of Ireland in the Government of Ireland Act 1920, but these had never been enacted. Unionists did not appreciate any «interference» by the Republic of Ireland in its newly formed region. Following the conclusion of an agreement in 1973 on the formation of an executive, agreement was sought on the re-establishment of a Council of Ireland to promote cooperation with the Republic of Ireland. Between 6 and 9 December, talks took place in the Berkshire town of Sunningdale between British Prime Minister Edward Heath, Irish Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave and the three pro-deal parties. However, there were serious problems for the executive. .

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