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Breakfast with Frost Sunday, 21 July, 2002, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
David Trimble MP, Northern Ireland first minister
David Trimble MP, Northern Ireland first minister
David Trimble MP, Northern Ireland first minister

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

PETER SISSONS: ...Bloody Sunday, last week the IRA released a statement timed to coincide with this anniversary, it apologised for the hurt and the pain it has caused the families of civilian victims of the troubles but while some in the Unionist community welcomed the apology others have questioned its sincerity. I'm joined from Belfast by Northern Ireland's First Minister, David Trimble, good morning David.

DAVID TRIMBLE: Good morning.

PETER SISSONS: We've had two acts of decommissioning and this unprecedented apology from the IRA against a backdrop of history it must be progress?

DAVID TRIMBLE: It is but I would have liked to have seen it go further, the apology was limited, it would have been much better of course if it had been more comprehensive. The important thing though is is it sincere? Is it going to reflect their actions, it certainly doesn't reflect the actions of the Republican movement over the last couple of months, when they have been involved in serious violence here in Belfast...

PETER SISSONS: Are you talking about...

DAVID TRIMBLE: Activity...

PETER SISSONS: Are you talking about the Provos being involved or...


PETER SISSONS: Or, or not just the Continuity or the Real IRA but?

DAVID TRIMBLE: Oh no, no the senior police officers in Belfast have pointed the finger unambiguously at mainstream Republicans, that's the, as you say the Provisional IRA, that's the paramilitaries linked with Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness as having been responsible for orchestrating violence in Belfast and the serious rioting that we've had. Now from the point at which the Prime Minister became focused on the issue, the mainstream Republicans have been busy winding down the violence but a few weeks ago they were winding it up and that's the more important question. Apologies are fine but it would be important that the apology is based on a change of approach and a change of heart by the persons who are apologising and that brings you to the question of what are they doing now, what do they intend to do for the future and those are the most important questions.

PETER SISSONS: And what if it isn't a change of approach, what if it goes on...what is your dotted line?

DAVID TRIMBLE: Well we've made it clear to the government that we expect the government to respond to this and indeed the Prime Minister has promised to do so and he, when he visited Northern Ireland a couple of weeks ago he said that he would consider the matter and he would set out again the principles on which people's actions should be based and crucially he said he would indicate what would happen if they don't do so. And he told us that he would make a statement before Parliament rose. Now Parliament rises for the summer on Wednesday and the general expectation is on Wednesday the Prime Minister will clarify the matter and I very much hope that he does.

PETER SISSONS: But the Prime Minister can't get the IRA to change its behaviour...

DAVID TRIMBLE: Yes he can, yes he can, we all can and it's can get them to change their behaviour by pointing out to them very clearly that if they don't that there will be consequences, that's, that is how one does these things.

PETER SISSONS: But is the bottom line for you that you're prepared to collapse the Executive and the Assembly if there's no change in the behaviour of the IRA?

DAVID TRIMBLE: Well Peter I've done that twice already, I think I'm the only politician in the British Isles to date who has twice voluntarily put himself out of office in order to bring pressure on Republicans and as a result we saw the situation improve. Now it shouldn't be up to me, the person who has the responsibility is Tony Blair and I'm calling on him to exercise his responsibility. He's supposed to be the guardian of the peace process, he's the person who carries the legal responsibility for maintaining order here in Northern Ireland and I'm calling upon him to exercise that.

PETER SISSONS: So what exactly do you want him to do?

DAVID TRIMBLE: Well I know what we want to see happen, what we want to see happen is the peace that we were promised four and a half years ago and we want to see the paramilitaries carry out the undertakings they gave to have a complete and unequivocal ceasefire and of course to carry that through with the decommissioning of their weapons and of course the eventual disbandment of the organisations - that's what we want to see happen. We didn't expect it would happen overnight but we want to see clear and unambiguous progress towards that, that's the responsibility of the paramilitaries and it's the responsibility of the Prime Minister to put pressure on them to make them do that and we'd like to see clear evidence of this happening.

PETER SISSONS: But you've said that you, you threatened and you carried out your threat twice before to, to resign, but do you rule out doing it again?

DAVID TRIMBLE: Oh no I don't do that Peter, of course I don't, what I say is that the primary responsibility rests on the Prime Minister who I hope is going to exercise it so let us all look forward to Wednesday in anticipation.

PETER SISSONS: David Trimble thank you for joining us.


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