A former British Foreign Secretary says people must accept the eventual reunification of Ireland.

Speaking in Dublin, Michael Stewart said that he would like to see a united Ireland soon but did not underestimate the challenges faced in reaching an agreement. He believes that as soon as the idea of a united Ireland is accepted, the easier it will be to work.

I don't underestimate the difficulties in reaching agreement about this.

He is hopeful that quadripartite talks will go some way to find a resolution to the problems in Northern Ireland. In the meanwhile, he is hopeful that people will refrain from violence. Michael Stewart believes that once the notion of United Ireland is accepted, then the process of removing troops from Northern Ireland can begin.

The sooner that we all accept that the goal would be a United Ireland, the better.

He believes that the people of Britain are extremely unhappy about the situation in Northern and are looking for guidance from political leaders in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Britain.

Michael Stewart was in Dublin to attend a meeting of the Political Affairs Committee of the Council of Europe Consultative Assembly at Leinster House.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 13 September 1971. The reporter is Joe Fahy.