FEBRUARY 12, 1996
British Prime Minister John Major made a televised speech Monday to talk about the next steps for the Northern Ireland peace process. Following an excerpt from Major's speech, AlexThompson of Independent Television reports on the the state of Northen Ireland.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: In London today, police and work crews surrounded the site of Friday's bomb explosion that left two dead and more than one hundred injured. But the explosion in the Docklands district destroyed more than lives and property. It also dashed hopes for peace, hopes built during the cease-fire of the past 17 months in Northern Ireland. We begin our coverage with an excerpt from a rare television address to the nation tonight by British Prime Minister John Major.
JOHN MAJOR, Prime Minister, Britain: Sinn Fein and the IRA have a choice. Only when they commit themselves unequivocally to peace and reinstate the cease-fire can they have a voice and a stake in Northern Ireland's future. But if they reject democratic principles and use violence, they can expect no sympathy and no quarter. We will hunt down the criminals who murdered innocent people last Friday. We will be vigilant against the threat of further attacks. The IRA will never bomb their way to the negotiating table. Until their violence genuinely ends, British and Irish ministers will not meet Sinn Fein. There's a new spirit in Northern Ireland, a spirit for peace. We will not allow the gains made there to be lost. We shall intensify work with the democratic parties and with the Irish government. On Friday night, at one minute past 7, the IRA broke their word. They shattered promises made in their name. But I will never weaken my resolve to bring a just and lasting settlement to Northern Ireland.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: On the streets of Northern Ireland today, there were more police, but so far no signs of violence. And many voices in the British-ruled province are calling for new efforts to preserve the peace which followed 25 years of civil conflict. Next, Alex Thompson of Independent Television News reports from Northern Ireland on the desire for peace, and on the reaction from Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army.
ALEX THOMPSON, ITN: Several thousand people gathered outside Belfast City Hall at lunch-time to express the overwhelming desire of people here for the cease-fire somehow to re-start. Peace campaigner Ann Carr called on all politicians to find compromise.
ANN CARR: The politicians must ask themselves: What do I need to do to bring a just and lasting peace to our country?
MR. THOMPSON: But down in South Armagh, a different message after Friday. Business as usual for the provisional IRA it may or may not be. There is talk here of a possible new tactic of push and pause: Large one-off actions like Friday's, followed by an assessment as to what the effect is. The houses at Cullyhanagh at Crossmaglen nestle around a monument to IRA members who've been killed. Here, one of the area's leading Republicans told us John Major, not the IRA, can salvage the peace process.
JIM McALLISTER, Sinn Fein: John Major can salvage it tomorrow morning by drawing up a realistic time scale for all party negotiations and by saying to the Unionists, listen, we're calling the talks, if you don't want to come with us, too bad. That would be a pity, but won't help, but nevertheless, we're calling the talks.
MR. THOMPSON: Now for Sinn Fein's Belfast leadership and Gerry Adams specifically, the coming days are critical. So far, the IRA's with him, but that's only one side of the equation which decides his future.
GERRY ADAMS, President, Sinn Fein: I think when we do get a peace settlement and we surely have to get a peace settlement that it will be because governments on both islands play leadership roles, bring all the parties together, and start to figure out and to work and to accommodate and to end up with an agreement. That's what we need to do.