Belfast Telegraph

Reflections ... voices from our troubled past

Key quotes from Peter Taylor's interviews

Compiled by Rebecca Black

First Minister Peter Robinson: "I think the distinction between the two is Martin McGuinness and Sinn Fein have a mandate from the nationalist and republican community. There is a difference between giving somebody a position in the politics in Northern Ireland because they have a mandate and giving someone a role in the politics of Northern Ireland because they threaten or actually carry out violence," he said in response to being shown footage where he claimed: "The reward is given to the terrorist."

First Minister Peter Robinson: "The men in white coats would have taken us both away" when asked if he would have believed in the 1970s that Martin McGuinness would meet the Queen. There is a much greater maturity about our acceptance of the identity and what is important to each sections of our community.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness: "It is often argued that the British came to the negotiating table specifically in regard to the ongoing IRA campaign," he said, in response to an interview as a young man when he said: "At the end of the day it is the cutting edge of the IRA that will bring freedom."

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair: "No one won the war. The British and unionists were never going to be burned out of the United Kingdom, and we were not going to be able by military force to destroy republicans, so no one won, but everyone won by the peace."

Jim Prior, Conservative Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 1981-84: "I know we didn't win it, I'm not certain the other side won it. As time went on it became possible for both sides to get into a position where it was easier to make peace than make war."

Former Prime Minister John Major: "The angry part of me said I would never sit down, the pragmatic part of me of course would have done so had I thought there was going to be an outcome from any such meeting," he said in response to his statement after the Warrington bombings: "That would turn my stomach and most people in this house, we will not do it (speak to Gerry Adams)."

UDA leader Jackie McDonald: "It was wrong. Killing anyone, looking back, it was a different way of doing things, violence only gets you so far," in response to an interview during the Troubles in which he said: "It was a message to the IRA. If they are going to that do to us, we are going to do that to you."

Brighton bomb survivor Lord Tebbit: "I don't think this was a war that was won, it was a war that ended in a truce."

Former Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon, SDLP: "When it came to the point where he (Paisley) could see himself as the person in the centre of political life in Northern Ireland, he couldn't refuse. Never, never, never became yes please, and quick."

Former IRA hunger striker Gerard Hodgins: "It's a crazy situation, we set out to be revolutionaries, to overthrow the state, and ended up being the caretakers of the state. 3,000-plus people dead was a hell of a price to pay for to become part of a state you were supposedly trying to overthrow."

Former member of the Parachute Regiment who was in Londonderry on Bloody Sunday: "If I had to do the same thing again, I would do it. No regrets.

"I have got blood on my hands, yes, but not of innocent civilians. What I did, I did correctly."

PUP leader Billy Hutchinson: "I regret every life that was taken and everyone who was injured during the conflict. I suppose in many ways I wish the conflict had never happened but it did and many young men were driven by that notion that the IRA had to be stopped and the British Government weren't going to do it," he said in response to an earlier interview in which he said with regard his murder of an innocent Catholic: "I don't have any regrets for anything I have done. I believe that I was part of a war and that war had to be fought."

Former First Minister David Trimble, Ulster Unionist: "It could have been better, it may very well be maybe there were misjudgments I made. Maybe there were misjudgments the SDLP made but I am not going to say it wasn't worth it."

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