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1995 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview in Belfast

Below is the text of Mr Major’s doorstep interview in Belfast, held on Thursday 21st December 1995.


QUESTION:

What do you hope will be achieved in the next 12 months?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think we are going to try and continue to move the process forward. That is the purpose of the twin-track arrangement and that is what we will be seeking to do.

QUESTION:

You are aware that you are in an area which has seen some of the worst of the troubles here. Are you impressed with what you have seen this morning?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am impressed. If one looks at these buildings, these provide opportunities for new industries, new employment, new hope to spring up. What we have seen over the last 18 months or so in Northern Ireland is much of the accumulated skills of Northern Ireland increasingly being put to use; unemployment is falling, investment is growing, there has been a tremendous change in the economic atmosphere in Northern Ireland and there is a huge tide of potential external investment that will come into Northern Ireland as soon as people are clear in their minds than the peace is here for good.

QUESTION:

How worried are you by the murders of this week?

PRIME MINISTER:

They were disgraceful, absolutely disgraceful. We don’t yet know quite all the details of the murders but there is no way in which that can be accepted.

QUESTION:

There is speculation that the IRA was involved.

PRIME MINISTER:

I have heard that speculation. It may be. I don't know whether that is true or not. We shall have to try and find out.

QUESTION:

There is a feeling within the Nationalist community here that British intransigence is going to hold up the peace process. How would you answer that?

PRIME MINISTER:

I have heard people talking about the peace process being held up from the very moment we began it and we have steadily moved forward. What I think has been perfectly clear when you have asked all the people of the north and all the people of the south what they think is that they have expressed a view very clearly about decommissioning. I think I saw a poll in the south as well as the north recently showing three out of four people believing that decommissioning should be started before Sinn Fein were allowed into talks and very nearly half of them felt that decommissioning should not just be started but ought to be finished, concluded, weapons entirely gone, before they entered the talks.

If the last questioner was right and the killings over the last few days were perpetrated by the IRA, is that not the clearest indication of why is it necessary for weapons to be decommissioned to give confidence to the people of the north that that sort of behaviour is gone for good? And it isn't just the British Government saying that, it is the people of Northern Ireland saying that and I think that view is shared by the people of Southern Ireland as well so if those talking about peace over the past eighteen months or so are genuine in what they have been saying, then they can prove that very clearly by proving that they really wish to take the gun out of politics by doing it and I hope they will.