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. On December 9, a press release was issued announcing the agreement, which was later announced as the Sunningdale Agreement. The Government of Ireland Act 1920 provided for an Irish Council, but these provisions had never been adopted. The Unionists were furious at any “interference” by the Republic of Ireland in its newly created region. In 1973, following an agreement on the formation of an executive, an agreement was reached on the reintroduction of an Irish Council to promote cooperation with the Republic of Ireland. Between 6 and 9 December, discussions took place in the town of Sunningdale in Berkshire between British Prime Minister Edward Heath, Irish Prime Minister Liam Cosgrave and the three pro-agreement parties. On Monday, 8 April 1974, Merlyn Rees, then Sate Minister for Northern Ireland, met with representatives of the Ulster Workers` Council (UWC). The meeting did not reach an agreement. [At this stage, the UWC was not considered a serious threat to the future of the executive, mainly because of the failure of previous work stoppages of the Loyalist Workers Association (LAW) and the apparent low support for protests against the Sunningdale agreement.] 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. Parliamentary elections were held the following month. The Ulster Unionists formed the United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC) as a coalition of anti-union unionists with the Progressive Union Vanguard Party and the Democratic Unionist Party to field a single anti-Sunningdale candidate in each constituency.
The pro-Sunningdale parties, the SDLP, the Alliance, the Labour Party of Northern Ireland and the Pro Assembly Unionists, made up of Faulkner`s supporters, disagreed and clashed. When the results were de-reported, UUUC won 11 of the twelve constituencies, some of which were won by split votes. Only West Belfast has returned a pro-Sunningdale MP (Gerry Fitt). UUUC has declared that this is a democratic rejection of the Sunningdale Assembly and executive and has tried to bring it down by all means. On 21 November, an agreement was reached on a voluntary coalition of pro-agreement parties (contrary to the provisions of the Belfast Agreement, which defines Hondt`s method for electing ministers over the main parties in the Assembly). The distinguished members of the executive were former Unionist Prime Minister Brian Faulkner as Chief Executive, Gerry Fitt, Head of the SDLP, Deputy Director General, future Nobel Laureate and Leader of the SDLP John Hume as Trade Minister and Chairman of the Oliver Napier Alliance Party as Minister of Law and Head of the Law Reform Office.