Power-Sharing (July 1973 to May 1974)

  • Ian McAllister


For a competitive democratic system to function normally over time requires consensus on the transference of political power from government to opposition. The acceptance of the right (and duty) of the opposition to accede to power if it can obtain a majority on the floor of the legislative body depends not only on that party acting at all times in a constructive constitutional manner, but on widespread agreement that it is a legitimate opposition. A peaceful shift of political power is indicative of the maturity and stability of a political system. Correspondingly, inability to sustain the transition is a direct expression of political instability and dissensus.


Coalition Partner Alliance Member Assembly Election Royal Ulster Constabulary Protestant Community 
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  1. 1.
    Otto Kirchheimer, ‘The Waning of Opposition in Parliamentary Regimes’ in Mattei Dogan and Richard Rose (eds), European Politics, (London: Macmillan, 1971) p. 285. For a development of some of the themes in this chapter, see Ian McAllister, ‘The Legitimacy of Opposition: the Collapse of the 1974 Northern Ireland Executive’, Eire-Ireland, (forthcoming). See also Michael James, ‘The Failure of Britain’s Irish Policy’, Australian Quarterly, 47:1 (1975) pp. 51–64, and Donal Barrington, ‘After Sunningdale’, Administration, 24:2 (1976) pp. 235–61.Google Scholar
  2. See also Michael James, ‘The Failure of Britain’s Irish Policy’, Australian Quarterly, 47:1 (1975) pp. 51–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Donal Barrington, ‘After Sunningdale’, Administration, 24:2 (1976) pp. 235–61.Google Scholar
  4. 2.
    Quoted in David Bleakley, Faulkner: Conflict and Consent in Irish Politics, (London: Mowbray, 1974) p. 126.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Michael Laver, The Theory and Practice of Party Competition: Ulster, 1973–75, (London: Sage Contemporary Political Sociology Series 06–014, 1976) p. 30.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Paddy Devlin, The Fall of the Northern Ireland Executive, (Belfast: published for the author, 1975) p. 45.Google Scholar
  7. 13.
    The document is reproduced in Richard Deutsch and Vivien Magowan, Northern Ireland: a Chronology of Events, 1968–74, Vol. 2 (1972–73) (Belfast: Blackstaff, 1974) Appendix 7.Google Scholar
  8. 14.
    Keith Kyle, ‘Sunningdale and After: Britain, Ireland and Ulster’, The World Today, 31:11 (1975) p. 442.Google Scholar
  9. 15.
    Michael Farrell, Northern Ireland: the Orange State, (Londe: Pluto, 1976) p. 311.Google Scholar
  10. 19.
    Quoted in A. Murie et al, ‘Developments in Housing Policy and Administration in Northern Ireland Since 1945’, Social and Economic Administration, 6:1 (1972) p. 49.Google Scholar
  11. 33.
    See Central Citizens’ Defence Committee, The Black Paper: the Story of the Police, (Belfast: Central Citizens’ Defence Committee, 1973).Google Scholar
  12. 35.
    SDLP, Policing: Realities and Responsibilities, (Belfast: SDLP, 1975) p. 1.Google Scholar
  13. 46.
    On this general question, see C. R. Symmons, ‘The Law Enforcement Commission Report and Article 29 of the Irish Constitution’, The Irish Jurist, (new series) 8:1 (1973) pp. 33–54.Google Scholar
  14. 52.
    Robert Fisk, The Point of No Return, (London: André Deutsch, 1975).Google Scholar

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© Ian McAllister 1977

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  • Ian McAllister

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