The Northern Ireland Act (1998) was passed at Westminster ‘to make new provision for the government of Northern Ireland for the purpose of implementing the agreement reached at multi-party talks on Northern Ireland …’
This Act repealed the Government of Ireland Act of 1920, that had partitioned Ireland.
Though the Government of Ireland Act of 1920 required proportional representation in Northern elections, it was repealed for the 1929 general election. This weakened minority parties, particularly Labour, and consolidated the unionist-nationalist rift. Representation for Labour, independent unionists, and other groups fell from eight seats in 1925 to four in 1929, although their share of the vote increased.
In the Belfast Agreement, it was agreed that the union between Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom would remain in place as long as the majority of the people in Northern Ireland wanted it. It was also agreed that the North would be governed by representatives of both the unionist and the nationalist sides. This is now known as power–sharing. It meant that Unionist and Nationalist politicians agreed to run a large amount of the Northern Ireland government together by becoming members of the new assembly in Stormont Castle in Belfast.
Meanwhile, despite the conflict, the government decided to press ahead with Home Rule and passed the Government of Ireland Act in 1920. This gave Ireland 2 Parliaments (each with a Prime Minister), one for the Unionists and one for the Nationalists, but kept both Parliaments answerable to the overall UK parliament in London.
The plan for revolt was realised in the Easter Rising of 1916, in which the Volunteers, now explicitly declaring a republic, launched an insurrection whose aim was to end British rule and to found an Irish Republic.
The elections were held for the Nationalist Parliament in Dublin in May 1921 also, and Sinn Féin (under Eammon de Valera) took 124 seats with the remaining 4 being taken by Unionist candidates. However Sinn Féin refused to recognise the Parliament and instead continued to meet in Dail Eireann. The 4 Unionists were the only ones who attended the new Parliament. The IRA, under Collins, continued to fight on for more independence, and made regular attacks on Protestants in Northern Ireland too.
Sinn Féin is a 32-County party striving for an end to partition on the island of Ireland and the establishment of a democratic socialist republic. The achievement of a United Ireland is within our reach and unity offers the best future for all the people of Ireland. In these harsh economic times, it is also the best way forward from a financial and social perspective.
Under the terms of the Government of Ireland Act, the Southern Parliament was dissolved, and Southern Ireland was to be ruled as a crown colony. Over the next two days (14–15 May), the IRA killed fifteen policemen. These events marked the complete failure of the British Coalition Government’s Irish policy—both the failure to enforce a settlement without negotiating with Sinn Féin and a failure to defeat the IRA.
The Irish Republican Army is a dissident republican group that fought an armed campaign over almost three decades to end British rule in Northern Ireland before renouncing violence. It regards itself as a descendant of the Irish Republican Army that fought in the Irish War of Independence in the early twentieth century.
The Government of Ireland Act, which became law in December 1920, established two Home Rule–style governments in Ireland—one in Belfast with responsibility for six northeastern counties, and one in Dublin, and a Council of Ireland with equal membership from north and south. The Northern Ireland parliament opened in June 1921; in July a truce was called between British forces and the IRA, opening the way for negotiations for a constitutional settlement. A treaty signed in December 1921 granted Ireland dominion status—considerably greater autonomy than Home Rule—with opt-out rights for the northern government; if they did so, a commission would determine the boundaries between the two states.