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Ulster Unionist Jeffrey Donaldson MP
Ulster Unionist Jeffrey Donaldson MP
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW: JEFFREY DONALDSON MP ULSTER UNIONIST JULY 1ST, 2001

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

DAVID FROST: Let's turn now to Jeffrey Donaldson in the BBC Newsroom in Belfast. Jeffrey, your reaction to what we've just heard and what's just happened.

JEFFREY DONALDSON: Good morning, David. Well I welcome the decision by David Trimble to resign as First Minister because I think it was important that we bring that issue to a head, that is the issue of decommissioning. It is clear that for three years now the IRA have procrastinated on this issue. Last year they made a statement that they would put their arms completely and verifiably beyond use. They have failed to do that. They've broken their promises. And I think now it's time to put them under the spotlight and to put the pressure on that will ensure that they actually do deliver on the decommissioning of their illegal weapons. And could I also say, David, that Seamus Mallon is incorrect when he describes David Trimble's resignation as much ado about nothing. This morning in Northern Ireland we do not have a First Minister now and Sir Reg Embey, I think will merely carry out some of the functions that are required to ensure that the Assembly continues in being for the six-week period up until which we have to make progress on the arms issue otherwise the Assembly will either be suspended or there will be fresh elections in the autumn. So far from being much ado about nothing, this is a very serious situation in which the IRA are now under the spotlight and I welcome Seamus Mallon's call on Republicans to decommission because I think that is now what is essential.

DAVID FROST: And at the moment the IRA have put some of their weapons beyond use, they've just been verified again by the investigators, haven't they? They've done something, but nowhere near enough, that's what you're saying?

JEFFREY DONALDSON: Well that's incorrect, David, they have not put those weapons beyond use because the legislation passed by Parliament defines the putting of weapons beyond use as making them permanently inaccessible and permanently unusable. All that the IRA have done to date is allowing two of their arms dumps to be inspected by international inspectors. Now inspection of arms is no substitute whatsoever for decommissioning. If you're going to decommission a ship, you put it out of use, you don't put it in dry dock where it can be inspected and I think that is the important issue here in terms of IRA weapons, they've got to be made permanently unusable, permanently unacceptable, or inaccessible, they've got to be decommissioned. I think Seamus Mallon used the right term, they've got to get rid of them.

DAVID FROST: And do you expect to see David Trimble back as First Minister?

JEFFREY DONALDSON: Well, that remains to be seen. It depends very much on what the IRA decide to do in the next few weeks. If, and let's be clear, if decommissioning does not occur in the next six weeks we will not be going back into Dublin with Sinn Fein IRA. And in those terms I think that either way we'll be looking at some form of re-negotiation of these crucial issues or the, or fresh elections in the autumn.

DAVID FROST:

Jeffrey thank you very much indeed. Jeffrey Donaldson.

END

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