A noon meeting in Belfast on Saturday (March 20) with British officials was due to decide the future of Major James Chichester-Clark as Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.
LV Houses of Parliament
MV Chichester-Clark shakes hands with Heath at 10 Downing Street
SCU Maudling outside No. 10
CU Black & white still Faulkner
SV Craig speaking to reporter
CU Craig speaking
TRANSCRIPT: CRAIG: (SEQ. 6): "Direct rule is impossible."
REPORTER: "In what way."
CRAIG: "Because while we have the legal power, it would be unconstitutional and it would be our job here to mobilise all the resources of this community to preserve the Parliament of Northern Ireland."
REPORTER: "How would you do that?"
CRAIG: "Well, a parliament has very considerable ways of mobilising a community, and I can't see any government in Westminster being foolish enough to try and over-ride the democratic wishes of the country. If there was any suggestion of it, and I was Prime Minister I would immediately call a general election and get a specific mandate on it."
REPORTER: "But if the Parliament was dissolved?"
CRAIG: "Well, they would need legislation to dissolve it, and I would certainly use every means that I could in the framework of the law to make direct rule impossible."
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NOTE TO EDITORS: Please watch for details of possible resignation and alter commentary accordingly.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: A noon meeting in Belfast on Saturday (March 20) with British officials was due to decide the future of Major James Chichester-Clark as Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. For after a day of reports on Friday (March 19) that Major Chichester-Clark was to resign over the crisis in Northern Ireland, Britain's Prime Minister, Mr. Edward Heath, ordered Lord Carrington, his Defence Minister, and Sir Geoffrey Baker, Chief of military Staff, to go to Belfast and for urgent talks in an attempt to save the situation.
The crisis followed a surprise visit to London on Tuesday (March 16) by the Northern Ireland Prime Minister, seeking further British troops to handle the explosive civil situation in Ireland. But after talks with Lord Carrington, Mr. Heath, and Home Secretary Mr. Reginald Maudling, Major Chichester-Clark was promised only a further 1,300 troops -- not enough, according to news reports, to relieve pressure on him from within his own ruling Unionist Party, who wanted more troops in order to bring the situation under control. Following the announcement of the planned British visit to Belfast, news reports said it was possible that Britain would increase the number of troops on offer and avert the need for Major Chichester-Clark to resign.