Power-Sharing and the Council of Ireland: The Evolution of Irish and British Policy Strategies 1972–73
HMG’s attention for the immediate future was firmly fixed on securing a deal among the constitutional parties in Northern Ireland. In October 1972, the British Government published a Green Paper, entitled The Future of Northern Ireland. The Government stated that Northern Ireland would remain part of the United Kingdom, as long as the majority of people wished it to be so, and that a partial transfer of sovereignty, whether geographical (through a redrawing of the border with the Republic of Ireland) or jurisdictional (such as joint sovereignty between the British and Irish Governments) was excluded. The Government called for an examination of both the nature of any future affirmation of Northern Ireland’s constitutional status and also the possibility of cross-border co-operation, with the Republic, at executive or consultative levels — this was the so-called ‘Irish Dimension’. The British Government declared that it favoured, and was prepared to facilitate, the formation of a Council of Ireland to operate at intergovernmental and interparliamentary level, providing that any Northern Ireland Executive might ‘(a) consult on any matter with any authority of the Republic of Ireland’ and (b) ‘enter into any arrangements with any authority of the Republic’ in respect of any matters transferred by Westminster to the Executive.1
KeywordsEuropean Economic Community Green Paper British Paper Irish Unity Direct Rule
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