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1991 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview at Stormont Castle

Below is Mr Major's doorstep interview at Stormont Castle on 22nd February 1991.


PRIME MINISTER:

Good morning, it's very nice to be here in Northern Ireland. I had hoped that I was going to be here for the whole day, but I'm afraid with events elsewhere, as I think you know, it will be a slightly curtailed trip, and I'll be here for the morning, but not, alas, this afternoon.

QUESTION:

Mr Major, do you feel in any sense boxed in as a result of the Gorbachev plan, the peace plan right now?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I don't feel boxed in at all. There are some new proposals about that are being introduced; we are analysing those; we're examining them. They are in advance on what we had before. They are still some way short of the UN resolution. They do seem to have significant deficiencies in them and as of the moment we don't know whether the Iraqis are prepared to accept them. Now, what we will do this morning is analyse those, examine them and I will go back to London around about lunchtime. I will have some meetings with colleagues; I will liaise with the other allies and we will then make some judgements, but it's too early to make those yet.

QUESTION:

Is the land war on hold as a result though?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, the conflict is continuing at the moment, there is no reason for it not to continue until an agreement is made that it won't continue and that depends on meeting the Security Council resolutions. They haven't yet been met.

QUESTION:

Can you outline the two deficiencies?

PRIME MINISTER:

We'll do that later on today. We'll analyse them fully first. All I can say at the moment is they're better than we had before, but at the moment they don't look good enough. We'll examine them later on today.

QUESTION:

Can I ask you a question on Northern Ireland, what your view at present is on the initiative which Mr Brooke is trying to push?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think it's a very worthwhile initiative; I think Peter Brooke has pushed it with great skill, and great patience and is continuing to do so; I hope very much it will be successful; it will be a substantial advantage if it is.

QUESTION:

Are you optimistic about it?

PRIME MINISTER:

I'm always optimistic. Commonsense suggests it should win.

QUESTION:

Could I ask you also about the attack on you and Downing Street by the IRA and also the bombing of the Victoria Station? What is your attitude to the IRA after that attack and is your visit in anyway connected with that?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, my visit is not connected with it and my attitude to the IRA has not changed as a result of those attacks. That attack on Downing Street occurred ten days or so ago and then of course there was an attack at Paddington and Victoria, but in Northern Ireland you've had to live with attacks like that for a very considerable period of time, and my feeling about those attacks is just as strong as my feeling about the attacks in London, so my attitude hasn't changed. I thought the IRA were contemptible before and I still do.

QUESTION:

The IRA and Sinn Fein say that you will have to talk to them at some stage. What's your response to that?

PRIME MINISTER:

They know our position on that; they have been trying for a very great deal of time to bully us and push us around with terrorist acts and outrage. They really ought to have learned; they're very slow learners; they really ought to know after all these years that we aren't going to be pushed around by terrorist acts. This Government isn't; its predecessors weren't and we aren't going to be pushed around in that way in the future.

QUESTION:

What are the conditions on the Brooke initiative talks at the moment?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think we are pursuing those; the Secretary of State is pursuing patient diplomacy and other ways at the moment and that is the way we will continue.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, does it alarm you that tactics used in Ulster by the IRA are now being repeated on the mainland?

PRIME MINISTER:

Terrorist attacks anywhere, whether they are on the mainland or whether they're in Northern Ireland are disturbing, but they are also counter-productive; they're not going to gain anything for the IRA, absolutely nothing whatsoever; they will gain them no public support and they will gain them no political advance; they really should learn that.

QUESTION:

Are you happy, Prime Minister, with the co-operation given to the British Government by the Irish Government on security and particularly to the Anglo-Irish Agreement?

PRIME MINISTER:

There's a substantial improvement and co-operation between the British and the Irish Governments and the relationship has been very good, but there's always room for improvement.