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BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW WITH DAVID TRIMBLE MP, NORTHERN IRELAND FIRST MINISTER, MAY 6TH, 2001
Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used
DAVID FROST: Well it was a year ago this weekend that the IRA promised to put their weapons at some later moment beyond use and that promise persuaded David Trimble to lead his Ulster Unionists back into government at Stormont alongside Sinn Fein. One year later no other arms have been handed in, decommissioning hasn't really started and the general election is looming. David Trimble joins us now and we're delighted to welcome him today from, from Glasgow today just for a change. Good morning David.
DAVID TRIMBLE: Good morning.
DAVID FROST: Where do you stand today on decommissioning and Geoffrey Donaldson has said we should set a limit, a deadline, an absolute deadline in June, where do you stand on that this morning?
DAVID TRIMBLE: Well you're right to refer to the promise made by Republicans a year ago today, and that they would put their weapons completely and verifiably beyond use. That promise has not been kept but of course a year ago we also set the date for full implementation of the agreement and that's set as June of this year and so we're really down in the countdown to the date that both the British government and the Irish government and all the parties including Sinn Fein kept. So the big question now is whether there's any sign that they're going to keep their promise and what happens as a result of that. Now here unlike perhaps than the rest of the United Kingdom the election in a few weeks time is going to be critically important and I think it's very important that people in Northern Ireland demonstrate their support not just for the agreement but for its full implementation and that they send a message to Republicans in that respect.
DAVID FROST: And how do they do that, how do they do that, how do they send a message to the Republicans?
DAVID TRIMBLE: Well I think there are other parties, ourselves, the moderate Nationalists, the SDLP, people who have put the effort in in terms of implementing the agreement and I hope that people across the board in Northern Ireland will support those parties that have done the work and not those parties that are obstructing the implementation, worse than that even actually when you look at the behaviour of Sinn Fein over the last few weeks, you begin to wonder what commitment they have to it, they are leading members talking about renegotiating the agreement, there's increased violence, there are two murders in the last two weeks that there's grave suspicion that Republicans were responsible for and you ask yourself what is their gameplan, what are, why are they doing this in the run-up to an election, is it that they want to see arrangements here collapse, I don't, I hope not and I hope that people send them a message very clearly that they want to see those parties that have made the effort sustained and they want to see the agreement fully implemented.
DAVID FROST: But you're not giving them a, an ultimatum today, or you're not going to give them an ultimatum in this upcoming campaign, a deadline?
DAVID TRIMBLE: David what I will say to them and say very firmly and with all the emphasis I can command, that we agreed last year for full implementation in June, they undertook to put weapons beyond use, they have broken that promise, that breach of promise will carry consequences. What we do in June we shall see but what other parties do in June we shall also see, but between now and then there is an election where I hope that the electorate in Northern Ireland will tell those people who want to see the agreement crash, who want to renegotiate, who want to stay in violence, that that is not the way forward and that the way forward is to reinforce the parties that are trying to make progress and if necessary leave behind those who will not.
DAVID FROST: And when you talk about, there will be consequences if something doesn't happen, as you've outlined, what will the consequences be David?
DAVID TRIMBLE: Well the people who have broken their promise are gambling with the process and their other language demonstrates they want that process to collapse. I don't want the process to collapse but I do want to see the promises kept and I do want to see progress made on the basis of what the people in Northern Ireland endorsed, what the people elsewhere in the British Isles have endorsed. So I think we've got to send a message to the promise breakers, to those that are still engaged in violence that that is not the way forward and that they risk the process. I'm not going to destroy the process, I wanted to see it work as we agreed and I think I will look therefore to other parties, to British government, to the SDLP, for them to undertake, also their undertakings, because undertakings were given by the British government, also undertakings were given by the SDLP and I think it is for them to honour those promises, to show that the Republicans are not going to be able to destroy the process as they seem to wish.
DAVID FROST: And of course you mentioned Sinn Fein and so on there, but in terms of upcoming elections, the people who are really targeting your party, targeting the Ulster Unionists are the DUP, aren't they? They're the, they're your toughest adversaries?
DAVID TRIMBLE: Well I haven't mentioned them so far David because they're irrelevant, they're irrelevant because they've made no contribution to the process, they're simply there on the sidelines. Yes they hope to fish in troubled waters and gain some personal advantage out of it, but that's all they're concerned with, their own personal aggrandisement, they've made no effort and I think that people in Northern Ireland can see through the postures and the hypocrisies of the DUP. So I must say actually I'm not concerned about them, my concern is about how we achieve progress, how we compel the Republicans to keep their promise, how we persuade also the British government, the SDLP and others to support us in supporting the agreement.
DAVID FROST: And in terms of this coming week, this no confidence motion on Martin MacGuinness given that it can't possibly carry do you regard that as, as something of a stunt?
DAVID TRIMBLE: Well I think that a lot of people have been very disturbed at the behaviour of Martin MacGuinness not that he'd said that he'd been involved in the IRA, we all know that, he's going to give evidence at the┐tribunal about what he did on Bloody Sunday. I hope he also tells us what he did on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday as well and gives us some information about the 29 murders committed by the IRA in Londonderry when he said he was a leading member of it. I would like him to tell the whole truth not just part of the truth but that is an issue which is important in itself and it's important that we demonstrate our views with regard to it and I think what Martin MacGuinness did that caused most offence is when he talked about the Army getting away with murder, there were people who got away with murder in Londonderry in 1972 and I think Martin hasn't actually woken up to realise who they are yet.
DAVID FROST: David thank you very much for joining us this morning. David Trimble.
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