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Breakfast with Frost
David Trimble, Northern Ireland First Minister
David Trimble, Northern Ireland First Minister
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW: DAVID TRIMBLE OCTOBER 13TH, 2002

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

DAVID FROST: And let me put that straight to David Trimble in our Belfast studio, that the IRA has made a real contribution and that the fault lies with the Unions and so on, well you could say that both sides would say that sort of thing, but what's your response to what you've just heard David?

DAVID TRIMBLE: I'm afraid Mr McGuinness is still living in a fantasy world and he needs to come down to earth and realise what has happened. The instability we've had in the process and we've had this instability right from the beginning, comes from the failure of paramilitaries, and that's true of Loyalist paramilitaries as well as Republican paramilitaries, the failure of paramilitaries to deliver the peace, now we've delivered the politics but they haven't delivered the peace, that is the problem and that needs to be sorted out. It came to a head the other week when as a result of the police arrest it became clear that there was a massive spying operation done by Republicans but partly to aid terrorists but also to obtain political intelligence and documents were being stolen of a purely political nature. Now I said at the time that this is Watergate to the power of ten which it is, when you compare it just simply on the facts of the matter. I mean the documents were being purloined to enable the leadership of the Republican movement to have a political advantage over other parties, my own including. Now at Watergate as a result of it, the leader of the party responsible, Richard Nixon had to resign, if Martin MacGuinness was a man of integrity he would resign and there would be then no suspension. If Mr MacGuiness wants politics to go on and not be suspended tomorrow night or whenever it is then let him do the decent thing before that. His colleagues organised a massive spying ring on me, on John Reid, on Tony Blair and on President Bush, now is that normal politics? No it is not and he has to take responsibility for what he has been involved in.

DAVID FROST: And what about your prospects, as you say it looks as though it will be suspended tomorrow, what other hopes, how soon would you hope it would be reconstituted, brought back by Dr John Reid, the Assembly, or do you think this is the end of the peace process tomorrow?

DAVID TRIMBLE: Well we went to Tony Blair in May after the revelations about the Castlerae raid, the Colombian adventure where the IRA and all those other things and we said that this recurrent instability has got to be fixed and we've got to, you know four years into a process four years during which time the paramilitary issue should have been dealt with long ago, the agreement contemplated a two year period for that transition and after double that time had gone by we're saying to the Prime Minister this has got to be fixed, we have got to resolve the issue of paramilitaries once and for all and that's the challenge still today and that is what has to happen. And how that is done, which particular end of it you start on, I'm, let those responsible deal with it as they see fit but let there be no doubt about this, the issue has to be resolved and we have to now be clear that we're no longer dealing with private armies linked to political parties. I know there will still be continuing problems with regard to racketeering and crime but that's a policing issue which will be dealt with in policing terms. But we must no longer have private armies linked to political parties and that's true with regard to the Loyalist parties as it is with regard to the Republican parties.

DAVID FROST: And would you expect to have as people say in the papers, would you expect to have a shadow role if the Assembly is suspended tomorrow or not?

DAVID TRIMBLE: Well I don't know about that and it remains to be seen what policies, what proposals the Northern Ireland Office and the, the government have with regard to ensuring some degree of continuity because obviously up until now there's been an Executive that's there carrying out various policies, those policies still have to be implemented, they can't be just switched off half way through, there are important things have to be done in coming weeks and months now. The Northern Ireland Office has got to think about how it does that bearing in mind that they aren't its policies, they're not the Northern Ireland Office's policies and the Northern Ireland Office has no democratic legitimacy with regard to those policies, it has no mandate with regard to them. That's also by the way a flaw in the political system that we don't have as it were any legitimacy in the political sense for the way in which the Northern Ireland Office operates and that's an area too where I'd love to see change.

DAVID FROST: Well thank you very much indeed David. David Trimble there joining us from Belfast.

END

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