Northern Ireland (Framework Documents)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 22nd February 1995.

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Photo of Mr John Major Mr John Major , Huntingdon 3:31 pm, 22nd February 1995

There are three points that I would make to the right hon. Gentleman. First, I would thank him for his initial words. Secondly, I would say to him that the guarantee of the Union for the people of Northern Ireland lies within their own will. For so long as the people of Northern Ireland share the view that they wish to be part of the United Kingdom, they will remain part of the United Kingdom.

Thirdly, the right hon. Gentleman will also have heard the Taoiseach make it clear this morning that he was removing the claim to territory that exists in articles 2 and 3 of the Irish constitution. He set out the point about jurisdiction quite clearly this morning. That has been a source of great friction in Northern Ireland.

I believe and hope that we are now in a position where we shall be able to remove some of the old fears that have existed, as the immediate hubbub settles around the publication of this document, and look at a practical route forward. I am willing to do that. I think that it is clear from what the Leader of the Opposition and the deputy leader of the Liberal party have said that there is widespread consensus among rt hon. and hon. Members across the House, who would be prepared to give as much time, trouble and interest as is necessary to try to solve the problems that have bedevilled Northern Ireland for so long.