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1994 - Mr Major’s Comments on Northern Ireland

Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on Northern Ireland, made during an interview given in London on Wednesday 31st August 1994.


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked whether the IRA announcement went far enough].

PRIME MINISTER:

I think you raise an extremely important point. The fact there is to be a cessation of violence is very welcome. But what I need to know, and what the people of Northern Ireland need to know, is that this is not for a week, is not for a month, is permanent, and as soon as we know that that is permanent then we can begin to consider how to move forward. It may be that this is intended to indicate a permanent cessation of violence, I hope it is and I hope it will be made clear that that is the case.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if the IRA needed to use those words].

PRIME MINISTER:

I am not hung up on the particular words, I would like them to make it clear that as far as they are concerned, what they have called the armed struggle is over, that they have finished with violence for good. I do not mind how they phrase it as long as it is unambiguously clear that this is the end of the violence, that is what I wish to hear.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked whether the Unionists would find the IRA announcement inadequate].

PRIME MINISTER:

There is still a great deal to be done, but I think if many people had said a year ago, could you reach the situation we have now reached they would have said “No”. We now have the position where there is a cessation of violence, perhaps it is permanent, I hope so, we can then move forward to a proper constitutional future for Northern Ireland. I think that is a very great prize. What concerns me is not semantic criticism but the end of bloodshed in Northern Ireland.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked how he could measure that].

PRIME MINISTER:

We need two things, don’t we? We firstly need it to be made clear that this is intended to be a permanent cessation of violence, and then of course we need to see those words carried out, we need see the deeds, we need a period in which violence actually ceases. And as we set out in the Joint Declaration, if it is clear that it is permanent, and if the violence then ceases for a period up to three months, within that three month period we will then begin to talk to Sinn Fein about how we bring them into the constitutional talks, that is a great prize for everyone.