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1995 - Mr Major’s Comments on the Northern Ireland Peace Process

Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on the Northern Ireland peace process, made in an interview on 22nd February 1995.


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked why people should support the framework document].

PRIME MINISTER:

Firstly, they are the product of a great deal of discussion going back as far as 1991 as far as the Strand 1 document is concerned, and secondly, because the ambition I think of everyone in Northern Ireland - all the unionist leaders, the Nationalist leaders, everyone in Northern Ireland - is to try and entrench a secure, peaceful, prosperous future for Northern Ireland.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he wished to bring the people close to the new partnership].

PRIME MINISTER:

I don’t know that I would use the word partnership, I would use the word agreement. As far as the United Kingdom is concerned, there is a unique circumstance in Northern Ireland, nowhere else has there been the same sectarian divide for so long as exists in Northern Ireland. We have seen the fruits of that divide and they are not the sort of fruits that we would wish for this generation or the next generation. If we can bring people together by agreement partly by restoring political accountability in Northern Ireland, then we will set the basis for a better future for the next generation of young people in Northern Ireland than their predecessors had. I think that is worth aiming for.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if the Unionists would just say no].

PRIME MINISTER:

If I may point you back two years, there are many hurdles that have been overcome. I don’t deny the hurdles that still have to be overcome, but if you and I had sat here two years ago, would you imagined this day could have taken place? Would you have imagined we would have had a Joint Declaration agreed? Would you have imagined we would have been able to agree a framework document of this sort? Would you have imagined we would be able to put plans for a new Assembly? Would you have contemplated that we had six months of peace in Northern Ireland? I could stretch that list a long way. The unimaginable of two years ago has been achieved, the unimaginable of two years ahead must now be begun.