After the Northern Ireland Assembly elections of 1973, negotiations between the pro-agreement parties on the formation of a "power-sharing Executive" began. The most contentious issues were internment, policing and the question of a Council of Ireland.
On 21 November, agreement was reached on a voluntary coalition of pro-agreement parties, and the Executive took office on 1 January 1974. Prominent members of the executive included former Unionist Prime MinisterBrian Faulkner as Chief Executive, then SDLP leader Gerry Fitt as Deputy Chief Executive, future Nobel Laureate and SDLP leader John Hume as Minister for Commerce and then leader of the Alliance Party Oliver Napier as Legal Minister and head of the Office of Law Reform. Again, the UUP was deeply divided; its Standing Committee voted to participate in the executive by a margin of only 132 to 105. Since the partition of Ireland, unionists had been opposed to sharing power with the nationalist minority, and the end of majoritarianism caused great strife in the UUP. After opposition from within the UUP and the Ulster Workers' Council strike, the executive and Assembly collapsed on 28 May 1974 when Brian Faulkner resigned as Chief Executive.