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1995 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview on Northern Ireland

Below is the text of Mr Major’s doorstep interview in Northern Ireland, held on Friday 8th December 1995.


QUESTION:

The Peace Process seems to have been dealt a bitter blow today. How do you react to that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well it’s a very intransigent message that we've had from the IRA overnight. I think it will need some time to determine precisely what it means. It certainly isn't consistent with many of the messages in the past. I think most of the people in Northern Ireland - the nationalist community in particular - but the Unionists community and other governments who have been helpful over recent months will regard this as a slap in the face. There is absolutely no doubt amongst the people of Northern Ireland that they want a peace settlement. That they believe people have an obligation to come together and create a peace settlement. And I think what the IRA have said is in very stark contrast to what most of the people in Northern Ireland have made crystal clear that they want. And I think there's a second point as well. The IRA and Sinn Fein will now have to show whether they are quite separate or not. Sinn Fein have said for a long time that they can't control what the IRA have to say. Well the IRA have had their message. Let us hear from Mr Adams and Sinn Fein that they want peace. That they meant what they have been saying for the past year. I would very much like to hear Mr Adams denounce this attitude by the IRA. It's a tremendous rebuff to the nationalist community and the Unionist community in Northern Ireland and I think it will receive warm support from no quarter whatsoever.

QUESTION:

Gerry Adams has described your plans as ludicrous. Where can you go from here?

PRIME MINISTER:

Gerry Adams had better make up his mind what he wants. Is Gerry Adams the man who wants to help bring peace to Northern Ireland or is he a straightforward spokesman for a terrorist organisation who continues producing intransigent statements and putting a bottleneck in the way of peace. The people of Northern Ireland want peace. Gerry Adams is standing in the way of peace. Now he had better decide what he is going to do. There is no doubt what the nationalist community want. They want peace. There is no doubt what the Unionist community want. They want peace. There is no doubt what the British and the Irish Governments want. They want peace. So do the American Government. So does everybody else. Mr Adams wants to stand on his own and say he believes in the changed atmosphere, in the changed circumstances - that it is right for people to keep their weapons, threaten other people and to say that we will only negotiate with a pistol at the head of the other people, then let him say so honestly and clearly and not disseminate as he has tried to do over recent months.

QUESTION:

So who makes the next move?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, the International Peace Commission will soon start its work. I think the parties will talk to it. Well wait and see what Sinn Fein have to say. Are they going to try and bring this process to an end? Or are they going to have the courage to proceed with it? This is a moment of trial for Mr Adams. Does he believe what he has been saying, or has he been trying to deceive people? We’ll soon know. I think he has an obligation to the people of Northern Ireland to participate in this process, to talk to the International Commission and to decide to make process. If there is a blockage in the peace process, it is Sinn Fein and the IRA who are blocking it. They can unblock it. Nobody should be in any doubt about that. Now we will see whether they are honest in what they have been saying or whether they are not.