With the economy in jeopardy and the Loyalists not ready to compromise, Faulkner and his coalition board resigned on May 27. This marked the death of the Sunningdale Agreement and the first attempt at power-sharing when Northern Ireland returned to direct rule under the British government. Tuesday, May 28, 1974 Day 14 of the UWC strike The crisis was intensifying. Brian Faulkner resigned as chief executive after Merlyn Rees, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with representatives of the Ulster Workers` Council (UWC), refused. Faulkner`s Unionist colleagues also resigned. This is the end of the Northern Ireland executive. A large demonstration of peasants in tractors blocked the entrance to the Stormont Parliament buildings and also much of the Upper Newtownards Road. News of the collapse of The Northern Ireland executive spread to protesters. Celebrated in the Protestant regions of the region. William Whitelaw, first secretary of state for Northern Ireland, has published a “White Paper” in the hope that this will lead to a power-sharing between nationalist and Unionist politicians. While some unionists and nationalists, including the SDLP, supported the agreement, many opposed it. Among the proposals that were made during the negotiations was the creation of an Irish Council that would involve the political leaders of the South and which would have control over a number of areas, including the police. The election to the new Assembly led nearly two-thirds of voters to support power-sharing candidates.
However, a majority of Unionist elected representatives, led by Ian Paisley`s DUP and William Craig`s Vanguard Party, opposed the proposals. Despite fierce opposition from the most extreme Unionists, the Sunningdale Agreement was signed and the power-sharing agreement was to be concluded on 1 January 1974. The Council of Ireland should be a priority of the opposition of the Unionists opposed to the agreement. They felt that this was a step towards a united Ireland. As a result, the Order of Oraniers, the DUP, the Vanguard Party met and formed the United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC) to oppose power-sharing and the Council of Ireland. On 15 May, the Ulster Workers` Council launched a general strike to bring down the power-sharing executive and the Council of Ireland. Loyalist paramilitaries have forced many workers to stay in their homes. Roadblocks have been erected by loyalist paramilitaries in many parts of the north. The power-sharing executive collapsed and Direct Westminster rule was restored.
The agreement is expected to anger the parties to the separation of powers excluded from the talks. The Northern Ireland Assembly Bill, which came out of the White Paper, was introduced on 3 May 1973 and elections were held on 28 June for the new Assembly. The agreement was supported by the Social Democratic and Labour Nationalist Party (SDLP), the trade union UUP and the Alliance Intercommunal Party. Supporters of the deal won a clear majority of seats (52 to 26), but a significant minority in the Ulster Unionist Party rejected the deal. In January 1974, the Ulster Unionist Party narrowly voted against further participation in the assembly and Faulkner resigned as leader to be replaced by the anti-Sunningdale Harry West.