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BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST HOSTED BY PETER SISSONS INTERVIEW: JEFFREY DONALDSON MP AUGUST 5TH, 2001
Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used
PETER SISSONS: Well the clean-up operation is still underway here in London after that massive car bomb attack in Ealing just 48 hours ago and in Belfast this week it's yet another crucial moment in the peace process. Unless the British and Irish governments can persuade all sides to accept their latest proposals we could be looking at a suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly by this time next week. The stumbling block, as always, is the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons. In a moment I'll be talking to the Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid, but first the Ulster Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson joins us from Belfast, Jeffrey welcome, good morning.
JEFFREY DONALDSON: Morning.
PETER SISSONS: Do you see anything in the document produced by the British and Irish governments, that is of value to politicians who want to see Northern Ireland at peace?
JEFFREY DONALDSON: Well I read an article, one of the local newspapers yesterday which described the document as a betrayal of the Democrats and I think it is very difficult to find things in this document which will be of benefit to those of us who want to see the political process moving forward on a basis of respect for democratic processes. The document contains many words and proposals to their concessions to the IRA but very, very little for Unionists in terms of what we've been looking for, in fact the main issue at hand which is the issue of decommissioning, there's only one paragraph devoted to that issue and even then no specific proposals to identify how we move forward.
PETER SISSONS: So would you expect the Ulster Unionist Party to reject the document?
JEFFREY DONALDSON: Well I think that in the absence of decommissioning by the IRA and given the major difficulty that we have with the proposals on policing which in our opinion will seriously undermine the operational capacity of the RUC and the proposals to further demilitarise and also the amnesty for IRA terrorists on the run which go way beyond the terms of the agreement itself. Those proposals, in our opinion, create enormous difficulties and especially the time when the terrorist threat is, you've just been identifying, is on the increase. Do we really want to further undermine the ability of the RUC to counter that threat? Is it a matter of political expediency in terms of the moves that are being made to reduce security rather than the operational necessity in my opinion, to increase security to meet the increased terrorist threat. And so I think there are major difficulties here and given all of that and the failure of the IRA to decommission I don't think that this package of proposals is going anywhere.
PETER SISSONS: But, will you use the word reject about it, you say major difficulties, not going anywhere, is it going to be rejected?
JEFFREY DONALDSON: Well the, we made it absolutely clear that the package as it's presently formulated in the absence of actual decommissioning will have to be rejected as a way forward because it doesn't address the central issue and resolve the central issue which is whether the terrorist organisations, both Republican and Loyalist, are committed to exclusively peaceful and democratic means and that they demonstrate that commitment by the decommissioning of their illegal weaponry. And in the absence of resolving that issue then, yes, this document, these proposals I think will be rejected and we'll have to go back to the drawing board.
PETER SISSONS: What is the alternative then, Jeffrey, that you and those who think like you offer the people of Ireland, of Northern Ireland?
JEFFREY DONALDSON: Well we do have proposals to put on the table in terms of how we can move forward but I think what we have to do at this point in time is to pause and is to have further discussions under perhaps the aegis of a review of the agreement, a fundamental review that examines those areas where clearly the agreement is not working, is not delivering in terms of, of bringing the peace and bringing an end to the violence and find ways in which we can address that and we can move forward. I'm not saying that we, you know set all of this aside but I think that we would be foolish not now to address the issues in a much more in-depth and detailed way to see how we can go forward, the document as it's presently formulated I think is very, very much on balance, that's recognised not just by Unionists but I think in most of the major newspaper editorials this week there was a recognition that these proposals are totally unbalanced and are unlikely to find favour within Unionism and quite frankly I haven't spoken to a single Unionist in the past few days who has read this document and who thinks that it is the basis for a way forward. So I think that it is back to the drawing board to find ways in which we can move forward.
PETER SISSONS: Jeffrey Donaldson thank you very much for talking to us this morning.
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