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Abstract of Important Events - Northern Ireland Constitution Act (1973)



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Text and Research: Martin Melaugh
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Introduction

This is one of a number of files which provide a very brief abstract of important events during the Northern Ireland conflict. Some of the events are dealt with in greater detail elsewhere (check, for example, Key Events and the corresponding entry in the chronology.


The Northern Ireland Constitution Act (1973)

Following the 1973 United Loyalist Council (ULC) strike the British Government issued a White Paper which proposed the setting up of an assembly at Stormont to be elected by proportional representation (PR). The elected assembly was envisaged as working on a basis of partnership and agreement between Unionists and Nationalists, that is power-sharing. Even more radical were the proposals in the White Paper for there to be an involvement in the government of Northern Ireland by the Irish Government. The proposals were to increase the tensions that already existed within the main Unionist block and eventually lead to further splits in the Unionist Party.

The Northern Ireland Constitution Bill was introduced in Parliament on 15 May 1973 and became law on 18 July 1973. The Act, and related legislation, paved the way for the new assembly with devolved powers to be established at Stormont. The 1973 Act lead to a conflict of loyalties within the Unionist community. In addition to the prospect of Nationalists being given a say in the running of Northern Ireland, the Government of the Republic of Ireland would also have a role. Implicit in all that had happened to date was the fact that the Northern Ireland constitutional question was back on the political agenda.


CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within the University of Ulster.


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