Sunningdale, the Ulster Workers' Council Strike and the Struggle for Democracy in Northern Ireland

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The 'Sunningdale experiment' of 1973-4 witnessed the first attempt to establish peace in Northern Ireland through power-sharing. However, its provisions, particularly the cross-border 'Council of Ireland', proved to be a step too far. The experiment floundered amid paramilitary-led violence, finally collapsing in May 1974 as a result of the Ulster Workers' Council strike. Yet many of the ideas first articulated in this period would resonate in later attempts to cultivate peace and foster a democratic order. This collection asks what became of those ideas and what lessons we can learn looking back on Sunningdale more than forty years hence. 

Drawing on new scholarship from some of the top political historians working on the period, this collection presents a series of reflections on how key protagonists struggled with notions of power-sharing and the 'Irish dimension', and how those struggles inhibited a deepening of democracy and the ending of violence for so long. 

It will be essential reading for students and scholars of the Northern Irish conflict, as well as anyone with a general interest in the contemporary history of British–Irish governmental relations.


About the Author

David McCann is Lecturer in Politics at Ulster University Cillian McGrattan is Lecturer in Politics at Ulster University