Why Was The Anglo Irish Agreement Important

In the improved political climate between Britain and Ireland, the heads of state and government of both countries sat down to negotiate. Ireland and Great Britain have agreed that any change in the status of Northern Ireland will only occur with the consent of the majority of the population of Northern Ireland, and an intergovernmental conference has been set up to deal with the political, security and legal relations between the two parts of the island. The agreement was a blow to northern Irish unionists because, through the Anglo-Irish Secretariat, it provided an advisory role to the Irish Government in the affairs of Northern Ireland. The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and other trade unionists cancelled the agreement, and UUP MPs resigned their seats on this issue (although 14 were re-elected in by-elections in 1986). The party has staged mass protests and boycotts of local councils and filed a lawsuit against the legality of the deal. However, these efforts, which the Democratic Unionist Party joined, could not force the cancellation of the agreement. Such an attempt had already been made in 1973. In Northern Ireland, a power-sharing executive was created, made up of both Irish nationalists and unionists, and Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave participated in talks with British Prime Minister Edward Heath that led to the Sunningdale agreement. This agreement recognised that Northern Ireland`s relations with Great Britain could not be changed without the consent of a majority of its people and provided for the creation of a Council of Ireland composed of both members of the Dáil (the lower house of the Irish legislature) and the Northern Ireland Assembly.

This agreement failed in May 1974 due to a general strike inspired by trade union opponents of power-sharing. The British House of Commons voted overwhelmingly in favour of the agreement by 473 votes to 47. Labour politician Jeremy Corbyn, a supporter of a united Ireland, voted against the deal, saying: “We believe the deal strengthens rather than weakens the border.” Irish republicans have been able to reject the only constitutional progress (in the eyes of many nationalists and republicans) since the fall of Stormont a decade earlier. As such, the agreement reinforced the policy approach advocated by the SDLP and helped Republicans recognise the principle of consent as the basis for a fundamental change in Northern Ireland`s national status as the basis for a fundamental change in Northern Ireland`s national status. .