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Former deputy first minister Seamus Mallon MP
Former deputy first minister Seamus Mallon MP

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: Well, right now we're going to be joined by Seamus Mallon and then by Ulster Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson. And there he is, and there he is. There they are. Let's begin with you, Seamus, your reaction, obviously you knew this was coming, but how does it feel now it's happened?

SEAMUS MALLON: Good morning, David. Could I first of all say I'm very disappointed, indeed, very sad that David Trimble has taken this decision. It's no surprise to him or to anybody else that I believe it's a faulty decision. Because I will carry on fulfilling the functions of Deputy First Minister, Reg Embey, who was appointed by David Trimble will carry out the functions of First Minister, executive meetings will meet, executive will meet, we will be taking all of the decisions that we have to take, the executive will continue and the assembly will continue on to recess. So in many ways while it is a statement from the Ulster Unionist Party and David Trimble, in terms of the functioning of the political process, it's much ado about very little.

DAVID FROST: So everything will go on and the deadline is the middle of August, yes?

SEAMUS MALLON: Yes, well every time you use the term deadline in Northern Ireland's politics it's almost a guarantee that it won't be met. Deadlines have bedevilled us. And I have spent years trying to tell the Ulster Unionist Party, don't put down deadlines, because deadlines are never met especially by those against whom the deadlines are aimed. I believe, yes under the legislation we have six weeks within, or before a new first and deputy first minister must be elected. But my view is if there's going to be agreement that agreement is going to be reached much before the six week period. Because of the factors that surrounded this decision, not least the fact that on the streets, with Drumcree, with the violence that we see around us with the unrest in Northern Ireland, it seems to be incredible that anybody would leave the North of Ireland without the political process which has been a focal point for good, which has given people a type of stability that now is going to be taken away from them and I would hope that within the next two, maybe three weeks that if agreement is going to be reached it will be reached then and reached with a finality and a definition which will take the term decommissioning out of the political vocabulary. Which will deal with policing, which will deal with normalisation and demilitarisation and which will prevent the Ulster Unionist Party again using the political process and terms of the north-south ministry and council and the British Isles council to make what are essentially party political points.

DAVID FROST: And when you, when you said there that in the next few weeks you hope that decommissioning will disappear from the dialogue as it were, and not be heard of again, do I detect, I hope I detect optimism and that there's something that you know that you think there's progress on the way?

SEAMUS MALLON: I don't and I'm sorry I can't give you that reassurance. What I do know for a certainty is that decommissioning means holding of illegal weapons against the law of the land, against the Irish constitution, against the wishes of the Irish people and against the Good Friday Agreement. That's what in effect that issue is. At this time I believe the two governments have to ensure, along with the other political parties, have to ensure that arms are not being held illegally by any grouping on the island of Ireland contrary to the law and contrary to the wishes of people living on this island. While the governments have certain steps that they can take and I am asking now as I have done during the negotiations that they start to take those steps, otherwise the political process, tender as it is will be further damaged and further poisoned by this on-going issue.

DAVID FROST: And what, what are you asking the IRA to do this morning?

SEAMUS MALLON: Quite simply, get rid of all illegally held weapons. Make no more spurious arguments as to why you may or may not respond to the wishes of the Irish people. Look at the Irish constitution and what it says about the illegal holding of weapons, look at the Good Friday Agreement and recognise your responsibilities under that and please stop giving spurious reasons for not doing something which should be done automatically by any democratic party and that is rid themselves of all illegal weaponry.

DAVID FROST: Seamus, thank you very much indeed for joining us this morning.


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