Talks on the political future of Northern Ireland began in a remote north-eastern English country hotel under heavy security guard on Monday (September 25) -- while in Northern Ireland bombers wrecked the province's biggest and newest hotel in an attack timed to coincide with the talks.
GV EXT. Conference building -- "Blackwell Grange" hotel in Darlington, England.
GV Entrance guarded by policeman.
SV Policemen and police dog patrolling grounds.
SV Policeman checking credentials.
CU Policeman at door.
SV Policeman and dog patrolling near adjacent golf course.
GV Golf course PAN TO main house.
SV Northern Ireland Secretary Whitelaw walking towards house with newsmen. (3 shots)
SV Whitelaw entering house. (2 shots)
SV Police at main gate to grounds.
GV INT. Conference in progress -- Whitelaw at far end of table PAN TO Faulkner at near end.
GV Whitelaw and delegate.
GV PAN DOWN front of bombed hotel in Belfast.
SV Firemen PAN TO shattered front of hotel.
GV Curtains flapping through shattered window.
Initials LD/VS 2.01 LD/VS 3.05
This film shows the conference and Mr. Whitelaw's unscheduled walk, covered by natural sound. It also shows the wreckage at the plush Russell Court Hotel in Belfast, and this sequence, a telerecording, has dubbed background sound over it.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Talks on the political future of Northern Ireland began in a remote north-eastern English country hotel under heavy security guard on Monday (September 25) -- while in Northern Ireland bombers wrecked the province's biggest and newest hotel in an attack timed to coincide with the talks.
The talks, originally planned to be an all-party conference, were being attended by three of the province's seven parties....the main Protestant Unionist Party, represented by party leader Mr. Brian Faulkner, who was Prime Minister of Northern Ireland before the advent of direct rule from London; the Alliance Party; and the Northern Ireland Labour Party. Northern Ireland administrator Mr. William Whitelaw is conference chairman. Other parties have boycotted the talks.
The Labour Party and the Alliance Party both agreed that the control of police in Northern Ireland should remain in the hands of the British Government from London. On the future of Northern Ireland, they favoured a regional assembly and union with the neighbouring Irish Republic ONLY with the consent of the electorate. Mr. Faulkner, however, favoured the restoration of the provincial parliament where he was premier before its suspension in March this year. He also wanted it to have full security powers as before.
While the conference was under way, Mr. Whitelaw surprised security men by going for an unscheduled walk through the grounds to the main road -- to investigate journalists' complaints that the heavy security required them to walk the last half-mile to the hotel, sometimes carrying heavy camera equipment and slowing down necessary quick movement.
SYNOPSIS: A conference on the future of Northern Ireland began on Monday at a heavily-guarded, remote country hotel in the north-east of England. It was originally planned to be an all-party meeting, but only three of the province's seven parties were attending -- the main Protestant Unionist Party, the Alliance Party, and the Northern Ireland Labour Party. The latter two came out in favour of a regional assembly and union with the neighbouring Irish Republic, if the electorate consents. Mr. Faulkner, leader of the Unionist Party, wants the restoration of the provincial parliament - he was Northern Ireland's Prime Minister before its parliament was suspended in March, and direct rule imposed from London.
Mr. William Whitelaw, administrator of Northern Ireland and chairman at the conference, surprised security men by taking an unscheduled walk through the grounds with journalists. He was investigating their complaints that security was TOO tight, and that they had to walk the last half-mile to the hotel from the main gate -- sometimes carrying heavy television and sound equipment.
Back at the conference, meanwhile, the question of security in Northern Ireland was raised. The Alliance and Labour parties wanted it to remain in the hands of London, while Mr. Faulkner said it should revert back to a re-opened provincial parliament.
At the same time, in Northern Ireland itself, a bomb severally damaged the province's newest and biggest hotel -- the two-and-a-half-million-pound Russell Court in Belfast, opened six weeks earlier. Four men had driven a van with the bomb inside into a basement, and warned the staff and guests. One person was injured in the blast thirty minutes later, and two of three nearby hospitals were also damaged.