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Excerpt from Briefing given by the Tánaiste to Media, Wednesday 10 July 1996

Enright: I have to ask you about Northern Ireland and the current situation
there obviously is a matter that preoccupies peoples minds during trouble. What's
your view of the current situation and just how dangerous is it?

Tánaiste: The current situation is very serious. I think we have all seen over the
last number of days the inherent risks in what is happening in Northern Ireland. My
request would be the same as has been made by the British Government and indeed
by the Chief of Police in Northern Ireland - a call for restraint, a call for I think
recognition that if people proceed down this line certainly the future is very bleak. We
were a very short time ago quite optimistic about the opening of discussions and
negotiations. We have seen a possible return to Northern Ireland at its worst in the last
number of days. Coming up to 12th July it would be I think very important that
leadership is shown, that restraint is shown and that we avoid plunging back into the

Enright: Are you satisfied that Unionist leaders have done everything they
can to calm the situation?

Tánaiste: I think it beholds leadership on all sides to ensure that nothing is said
or that nothing is done that creates any further difficulties. The police and the security
forces in Northern Ireland are working under extreme difficulties, have been for the
last number of days and nights, and I think it beholds leadership now to ensure that
the situation is not compounded or exasperated and restraint should be called.

Enright: Do you regret that the Government here have taken such a strong
view on the routing of marches, do you think perhaps it was a mistake to reroute
this march?

Tánaiste: No. I have to say to you that the view that we have taken and the view
that is now supported by the British Government is that you have to have - the test is
reasonableness. We respect the right of people to engage in marches. They also have
to respect the right of people who do not wish marches going through their areas and
the balance was the British Government advised by the security forces set out to
achieve a balance and obviously balance involves compromise. And there was a
compromise sought and my view is that that compromise should be respected. There
is tension, there are serious risks but one would hope that people would show the
restraint that is necessary. And if there is leadership I think the ultimate comprises can
be worked out.

Enright: Do you support the Chief Constable's view that this march should have
been rerouted?

Tánaiste: Yes we do support that, yes.

Costigan (104FM): Tánaiste you have alluded to the grim scenario that might occur
if the march was allowed to go down the Garvaghy Road and of course the converse
is equally grim and it does seem as if the Unionists and loyalists perhaps have drawn a
line in the sand of this particular issue and all of their anger and all of their aggression
is coming out as a result of this particular issue. Also it seems if the unionists leaders
are still talking about how the Prime Minister in Britain should find some way of
reversing the position. Are you concerned at how this particular Garvaghy Road
situation is becoming the absolute centre for civil unrest?

Tánaiste: Well one has to be concerned and we have expressed that over the last
number of days in a situation where there are serious risks to public order to safety of
persons. I think it behoves everybody to bring about rational calm to a situation and to
see if they can through discussion resolve the differences. I also think the actions
taken by the British Government, by the security forces were reasonable in the
circumstances. The test ultimately is reasonableness and everybody has been trying
for months to avoid a situation which we are now confronted with.

Costigan (104FM): Was there any discussion on the situation at the Cabinet
meeting last night and was there any decisions made?

Tánaiste: No there were no decisions necessary by the Cabinet in relation to it.

Any further European questions please?

Interviewer: Tánaiste can I ask you one more question in relation to Northern
Ireland on the Forum and the All-Party talks when are they planned?

Tánaiste: Well the All-Party talks had been in the process for the last number of
weeks. We are ready and willing to engage in discussion with the parties. That is our
position. Ultimately we have to get back to the negotiating table. There is no future in
the type of confrontation that is happening at the present time in Northern Ireland and
the reality is that hopefully it will not be as I said will not plunge into greater
difficulty. But the reality is that the two Governments will have to pick up the pieces
and start talking and try and bring the parties back to the table as soon as possible.

Interviewer: Are there any moves for Governments to meet?

Tánaiste: Not at the present time no.


Transcript from Press. Sect' Dept. of Foreign Affairs > 0801265731230

@ 11:04 ; 19/07/96