When the special elections were held on 23 January 1986, the result was not ideal for trade unionists. Paisley and some other well-known personalities won with large predictable majorities. However, one of the four marginal seats was lost by the SDLP and in a second, Enoch Powell, the former English politician, who is now the intellectual engine of the official Unionists, hung up at home with less than 2000 votes. The trade unionists had recklessly sought the support of 500,000 voters, which would have been a clear majority of the Protestant population. In fact, they only surveyed 418,000, a sign of strength, but not really impressive. Such an attempt had already been made in 1973. In Northern Ireland, a power-sharing executive of Irish nationalists and trade unionists was established and Prime Minister Liam Cosgrave participated in discussions with British Prime Minister Edward Heath, which resulted in the Sunningdale Agreement. This agreement recognised that Northern Ireland`s relations with Great Britain could not be changed without the agreement of the majority of its population and provided for the creation of a Council of Ireland composed of both members of the D`il (the lower chamber of the Irish legislature) and the Northern Ireland Assembly. This agreement failed in May 1974 because of a general strike inspired by Unionist opponents of power-sharing. The excessive language of politicians, the threats of violence of Protestant gunmen, who have a plethora of weapons, and the gloomy mood of the entire trade union community, from university intellectuals to unemployed workers, do not bode well for the reconciliation of the two northern communities, which is ideal for reaching the agreement. When the two governments worked on the agreement, there was no reason to doubt the words of Barry White, an editor of the Belfast Telegraph and a respected observer of the Nordic scene, who had written a few months earlier: “Protestant trade unionists in Northern Ireland and Roman Catholic nationalists were never further away.” The agreement was adopted by Seanad Iireann by 88 votes to 75 and by 37 votes to 16.

[21] [22] The Irish nationalist Fianna Féil party, the main opposition party in Ireland, also rejected the agreement.