Escalating violence between Protestants and Catholics and an intensive campaign of terror by the IRA caused the British cabinet to suspend the Northern Ireland government in 1972. A new government was established in 1973, in which the Roman Catholics shared power with the Protestant majority for the first time and provision was made for increased cooperation with the Republic. However, Protestant pressure brought about the resumption of direct British rule of Northern Ireland in 1974. Direct rule continued until 1981.
In 1985, Great Britain signed an agreement with the Irish Republic, giving the latter a consultative role. While the Catholic party (SDLP) favored the agreement, the Protestant Unionist Parties used their majority in the regional Assembly to block it, resulting in the resumption of direct rule in 1985. An accord reached in 1998 provided for a new assembly, but disagreement over the disarmament of paramilitary groups slowed the formation of a multiparty goverment (Dec., 1999) and the end of direct British rule. Disagreements on the same and on other issues have led to several suspensions of home rule.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.