What was the importance of one or more of the following: the Sunningdale Agreement, 1973; the Anglo-Irish Agreement, 1985; the Downing Street Declaration, 1993?
The Troubles in Northern Ireland erupted in 1969. The IRA split in 1970 and the establishment of the Provisional IRA along with loyalist paramilitary groups led to an intensification of paramilitary activity in the period up to the signing of the Sunningdale Agreement in 1973. The Sunningdale Agreement was the first attempt at introducing a power-sharing arrangement between Nationalist and Unionist parties in Northern Ireland. The power-sharing arrangement was implemented on 1 Jan 1974.
Following the imposition of direct rule from Westminster, new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, William Whitelaw initiated talks between political parties in Northern Ireland. Initially the UUP, the Alliance Party and the NILP attended the talks. The newly formed Nationalist party, SDLP, refused to attend because of the continued use of internment by the government. However, the SDLP did attend talks between the British and Irish governments where the British agreed that any agreement that was reached would have to be acceptable to the Irish government. This opened the door to the possibility of a power-sharing arrangement being established.
In an effort to reassure Protestants, the British government held a referendum in Northern Ireland on the constitutional position of the North within the United Kingdom. The referendum became known as the border poll and was boycotted by Nationalists. Only 57% of those entitled to vote actually took part with the overwhelming majority voting to remain part of the United Kingdom. This boycott was an indication of the difficulties that the British government would have in getting any agreement acceptable to both the Catholic and Protestant communities.
The Sunningdale Agreement was an attempt to bring about power-sharing in the North by bringing together the...