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1997 Onwards - Sir John Major’s Contributions on ‘Who Won the War’ programme - 29/09/2014

Below is the transcript of the contributions made by The Rt Hon Sir John Major KG CH on BBC Northern Ireland’s ‘Who Won the War’ TV programme on 29 September 2014. The programme was broadcast on the 20th anniversary of the 1994 ceasefires and the presenter, Peter Taylor, reflected on the troubles in the province.


PETER TAYLOR


[Asked why he made Northern Ireland such a priority?]


SIR JOHN MAJOR


People were killing one another. If that had happened in Surrey or Sussex or any part of the mainland nobody would have tolerated it for a moment. It seemed to me to be equally intolerable in Northern Ireland.


COMMENTARY BY PETER TAYLOR


[Talking to terrorists was anathema to Conservatives but John Major reluctantly accepted the only way forward was to engage with the IRA and loyalist paramilitaries. Three days before secret talks with MI5 were due to take place the IRA bombed Warrington, killing two little children. Incredibly the meeting went ahead although John Major himself was not aware of it at the time]


SIR JOHN MAJOR


The angry part of me said I would never sit down [for discussions with the IRA], the pragmatic part of me of course would have done so had I thought that there was going to be an outcome from any such meeting that would carry the process forward.


COMMENTARY BY PETER TAYLOR


[The Government’s key point of contact to establish whether the IRA was seriously interested in calling a ceasefire was Martin McGuinness]


SIR JOHN MAJOR


If he couldn’t deliver the IRA then there would have been no point in talking to him.


.......

 

PETER TAYLOR


[Asked about the IRA and loyalist ceasefires in 1994]


SIR JOHN MAJOR


It gave a great boost to the belief in many people’s minds that there was a deal that could be done. Many doubted it but then there was a glimmer of hope.

 

PETER TAYLOR


[Asked about the war in Northern Ireland and the current situation]


SIR JOHN MAJOR


It’s been an exemplary journey in many ways and when one looks at other parts of the world, where the conflict looks irresolvable, one can realise that it is possible to bring together those who seem implacably opposed to one another for ideological reasons and it is a gift of human nature that that is possible.