The Destructors is the story of lost opportunities. In 1973, Northern Ireland’s first Secretary of State, William Whitelaw, convinced rival unionist and nationalist leaders, such as Brian Faulkner and John Hume, to set aside irreconcilable differences and form a power-sharing executive at Stormont.
The opponents of British policy in Northern Ireland – paramilitary organizations and the unionist politicians who were not central to Whitelaw’s plans – sought to efface power-sharing from the constitutional options that would be open to Northern Ireland if the executive collapsed. And in May 1974 they succeeded, when the British government failed to protect the executive from an unconstitutional political strike led by the Ulster Workers’ Council.
Taking a fresh and dynamic look at what the idea of power-sharing meant to the different parties to the Northern Ireland conflict, The Destructors examines how the Northern Ireland Executive’s fate was sealed when the policy of using power-sharing to regulate the troubles was abandoned by British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, following an ill-timed Westminster general election in February 1974.
Drawing on previously unavailable British and Irish archival material, and over 40 interviews with politicians and officials central to a peace process that led to an Anglo-Irish settlement at Sunningdale in December 1973, author Michael Kerr re-examines why Northern Ireland’s power-sharing experiment failed.
Table of Contents
1. Bringing it all Back Home
2. Breaking the Mould
3. The Whitelaw Settlement
4. A Salesman at Sunningdale
5. Hands Across the Border
6. The Other End of the Bridge
7. The Wildcats Strike
8. The Triumph of the Destructors
9. Responsibility without Power
10. Majority Report
About the Author
Dr Michael Kerr is Director of the Centre for the Study of Divided Societies at King’s College London, where he is a Lecturer in Middle Eastern Studies. He is the author of Imposing Power Sharing: Conflict and Co- Existence in Northern Ireland and Lebanon and Transforming Unionism: David Trimble and the 2005 General Election (both published by Irish Academic Press).