Sunningdale fails The Assembly approves Sunningdale in May and the Ulster Workers` Loyalist Council organises power strikes. Faulkner and other trade unionists withdrew from the executive, which collapsed and took over. On 21 November, an agreement was reached on a voluntary coalition of pro-agreement parties (contrary to the provisions of the Belfast Agreement, which defines Hondt`s method for electing ministers over the main parties in the Assembly). The distinguished members of the executive were former Unionist Prime Minister Brian Faulkner as Chief Executive, Gerry Fitt, Head of the SDLP, Deputy Director General, future Nobel Laureate and Leader of the SDLP John Hume as Trade Minister and Chairman of the Oliver Napier Alliance Party as Minister of Law and Head of the Law Reform Office. The other members of the executive were the Unionist Basil McIvor as Minister of Education, Unionist Herbert Kirk as Minister of Finance, Austin Currie, SDLP member, Minister of Housing, Unionist Leslie Morrell as Minister of Agriculture, Paddy Devlin, SDLP member, Minister of Health and Social Affairs, Unionist Royist Bradford as Minister of the Environment and Unionist John Baxter as Minister of Information.  This new executive, made up of the aforementioned members, took office and had its very first meeting on 1 January 1974.  The UUP was deeply divided: its standing committee voted by 132 votes to 105 in favour of participation in the executive. 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.  The Unionist opposition, violence and a general loyalist strike led to the failure of the agreement in May 1974. 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.
Between 6 and 9 December, discussions took place in the town of Sunningdale in Berkshire between British Prime Minister Edward Heath, Irish Prime Minister Liam Cosgrave and the three pro-agreement parties. The new Northern Ireland Executive took office on 1 January 1974, but was immediately embroiled in political controversies and protests. Within a week, Brian Faulkner had resigned as president of the Ulster Unionist Party following a vote of no confidence by his council. Although it still has a majority in the parliamentary party, ratification of the agreement has been constantly delayed amid the dispute over the constitutional and political importance of the Irish Council. The documents show that these persistent elements of the Northern Ireland crisis – power-sharing between the two communities, membership of Irish unity, Irish dimension, Anglo-Irish cooperation, IRA violence, loyalist mobilization and electoral volatility – emerged during this turbulent year. They have been superimposed on Britain`s intense commitment to intelligence and security in Ireland. And they prompted an investigation by both governments into alternatives to the deal in the event of failure, including the option of a UK exit from Northern Ireland.