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1994 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview in Enniskillen

Below is the text of Mr Major’s doorstep interview held at Enniskillen in Northern Ireland on Thursday 31st March 1994.


QUESTION:

[Inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER:

It doesn't matter who is perpetrating violence  It is absolutely unforgivable. I'm deeply sorry for the three men who have been seriously injured. I haven't yet had a detailed report on how badly injured they are, but it's absolutely unacceptable, to the people who perpetrated this particular piece of villainy be absolutely certain of one thing. The RUC will hunt them down and when they're caught they'll be punished.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER:

I have no idea what the motive for this might be. We have had these sort of activities for far too many years in Ireland, but I can be certain whatever the loyalists may try and do, whatever the Provisionals may try and do, it won't stop the efforts that we're seeking to make to provide a peace settlement and also to provide success through the three-stranded talks.

QUESTION:

[Indistinct but about the IRA ceasefire].

PRIME MINISTER:

I'm not sure when Dublin heard about it; I heard about it when it was announced and not before.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER:

The Government has said to Sinn Fein, through the Joint Declaration agreed with the Republic as well, that if Sinn Fein will renounce violence after a brief period, a 3-month period, then they can enter the constitutional talks. Now that is the only circumstances in which they are going to sit down and talk about anything that concerns them.

QUESTION:

Can you be optimistic about the future?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes I can, I can. I think anyone who has been coming to Northern Ireland for many years only has to look around him to see the changes. Have a look at the change in Belfast, have a look at the change in Londonderry, have a look at the extent to which there is now employment of many people from both religions. Have a look at the changes there are in the schools. Northern Ireland has made huge progress. It has made huge progress economically; it has made some progress politically. There's still more to be done, but, yes, I do think there's every reason for being hopeful.

QUESTION:

The killing hasn’t stopped?

PRIME MINISTER:

The killing hasn't stopped. No, the killing hasn't stopped, but what I think is perfectly clear is the massive public consensus across all political parties and I think across both religions against the people who kill. I think the indication of support that was the Joint Declaration is the clearest possible illustration of that and the most recent.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER:

Not all that long ago, not all that many years ago, it was a rather unusual event for the British Prime Minister to talk to the Irish Prime Minister, but it isn't an unusual event now. The Taoiseach and I meet regularly. We speak regularly on the telephone. The Secretary of State speaks regularly to Mr Spring. I will probably be speaking to Mr Reynolds over the next day or so, over a whole series of matters.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, is there any point in you calling Sinn Fein’s bluff?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, you refer to calling Sinn Fein's bluff. Sinn Fein's bluff has been called. Sinn Fein have a way of giving up violence for good and entering the constitutional talks. They have had every opportunity to do it. They chose not to do it. what they do decide to do: they have these occasional ceasefires for which they expect people to be grateful. Well I have to say, saying to people "We are not going to kill you on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, but you're fair game again on Thursday" doesn't seem to me to be likely to attract the heart and minds of the people of Northern Ireland and neither is it going to attract any single political advance of any sort either now or in the future. They had the opportunity to enter the talks; it's laying there on the table. They know very well what the Joint Declaration says; you know it; I know it; everyone in Northern Ireland knows it and they know it. They can take that option. It's the only one they've got.

QUESTION:

Have your learned anything from this trip?

PRIME MINISTER:

I always learn something in Northern Ireland. There's an unquestionable courage in Northern Ireland after the difficulties there's been in the last 25 years. I have seen this morning in Bangor I've seen some of that on the main street in meeting people. I have seen it in Armagh, looking at the new Trian, which, if I may say, if you haven't seen it I'd go and have a look at it. It's marvellous. I have also learned it's a very enjoyable place to come and I thoroughly [inaudible].