For the first time in half a century of domination over Ulster politics, Northern Ireland's Unionist Party appeared last week to be irrevocably split. Only four days after Brian Faulkner, leader of the party, was sworn in as Chief Executive of Ulster's new coalition government, militant Unionist members voted to oppose the Council of Ireland agreement worked out last month between Northern Ireland, Britain and the Irish Republic. The Unionists' Protestant hard-liners viewed the agreement, which calls for regular consultations between Belfast and Dublin, as the first step toward merger with the predominantly Catholic South.

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