Biography Chronology Home Search Speeches/Statements

1992 - Mr Major’s Comments at Belfast City Hall

Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on his arrival at Belfast City Hall on the morning of Monday 20th January 1992.


PRIME MINISTER:

Firstly, I'm delighted to be back here in Belfast, and the first message I bring to the people of Belfast is absolutely clear. We admire the way Belfast, year after year, stands up to some of the terrorist activities that they have to live with. It's immensely brave and it has the Government's full support. By being here today I hope I'm going to state that yet again.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, could you reassure the people about the security situation. They want some sort of action taken after the massacre of only two or three days ago.

PRIME MINISTER:

I understand that and I think the people who were responsible for that massacre are unspeakable. It is difficult to comprehend the evil of people who can stand there, at some distance, and brutally slaughter and murder innocent people in the way they did, and it is against that background that I will repeat again and again and again. "They cannot bomb Belfast out of its way of life. They cannot bomb Northern Ireland out of its way of life and they cannot bomb the British Government out of its policy." We had made the decision before that atrocity to send more troops here to improve the security situation.

I am not going to go into details of what can be done and what will be done, but that we will stand four square with the people of Northern Ireland against this terrorism, they need have no doubt.

QUESTION:

Can I just ask you, Sir, coming here today, coming to Belfast and going to Craigavon, where there has been trouble. But the people of Magherafelt, Ballymena, these other areas, they will feel very hurt at your absence in those areas today. Are you intending to meet with people, the relatives [Inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER:

This isn't my first visit to Northern Ireland, to Belfast, and other parts of Northern Ireland. It isn't going to be my last. You can expect me to be back again and again and again. What has happened in parts of Northern Ireland; the way in which it has built itself up against the most difficult background, I think is one of the moat impressive stories one could imagine. Yes, I will be back again and again and I will be meeting representatives of people of every part of Northern Ireland.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible] of the people who were killed, Prime Minister, what about the relatives of those people who were killed, who are burying their dead today?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, what can one say except to express one's sympathy for this quite needless and pointless tragedy. I wish I could find the right words of comfort for them. It isn't easy to do; it's a blot on their lives that these people have created that will never go away and I understand that. I wish there was something I could say to offer them greater comfort than I can. What I can say is that they may be absolutely certain that the people responsible for this outrage will be hunted and hunted and hunted for the rest of their days until we find them.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, what about the Secretary of State, did he make an error of judgment on Friday night in Dublin?

[Question not answered]

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, I am sorry for repeating this but to the people who are lying in hospital injured and the relatives of those people, have you any real understanding of their plight today, the sense of despair? Will you have anything to say to them, will you be able to say anything to them?

PRIME MINISTER:

I believe I do understand their sense of despair. No one who isn't living through it can quite appreciate the horror of what has happened to them, to their lives and to the lives of their relatives. I do understand that and I think I understand what they want in the future as well. They want to be absolutely certain that they are not going to be abandoned and that Northern Ireland isn't going to be abandoned, and I can promise them that it isn't.