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Friday, April 17, 1998 Published at 17:55 GMT 18:55 UK




Blair sends peace warning
image: [ A deal at Stormont - but lasting peace still needs work ]
A deal at Stormont - but lasting peace still needs work

The Prime Minister Tony Blair has admitted that keeping the peace in Northern Ireland will be "tough."

In his first full interview since securing the peace deal on Good Friday Mr Blair told the BBC that only the groundwork for peace was in place.


Tony Blair speaks to BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour
He told BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour: "(We have) a design for the architecture of peace but the building hasn't yet been completed."

Mr Blair said that if one part of the peace process were to collapse then all other parts will fail too.

The Prime Minister said the people of Northern Ireland had to choose between "mutually-assured success or mutually-assured failure."

The Orange Order has expressed reservations at the peace deal that is being put to a referendum.

They are worried about the early release of prisoners and the future role of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

But Mr Blair said their initial rejection "was not as bad as it may have been" because they had not ruled out accepting the agreement in the long-term pending clarification of the issues worrying them.

Later in an interview with BBC Northern Ireland Mr Blair sought to reassure the people of the province on the issue of prisoner releases.


Tony Blair speaks to BBC Northern Ireland
Mr Blair said he understood the concerns of the victims of terrorism, but emphasised that prisoner releases would be carefully handled.

He stressed: "There is no question of any remission or early release unless the organisation and the individuals themselves have given up violence and are safe to be let out into the community.

"I totally again understand the concerns that people have but it is important that if we are to try and have a fresh start and a new beginning we deal with all these questions in the round, but there is no way that there is going to be anyone allowed out whose organisation has not stopped violence, stopped it properly and in respect of the individuals, they too have got to be quite clear that they have given up violence and as I say, when they are out it is only on licence."

The prime minister added that all organistation had to put violence behind them.

"We make it very, very clear that if people are in organisations that are still committed to violence or preparing for violence and are obviously actively engaged in violence, then they can be excluded or removed from office in the Assembly on those grounds.

"So it will not be - and should not be the case - that you have organisations that are still trying to have it both ways or are not properly committed to the peaceful path end up holding office in the Assembly."








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