SS1 (an ex-Secretary of State)
I got on with the terrorists on both sides ‘cause I treated them as human beings. They were mostly normal working-class men… I had an affinity with them. People said it was my gender… it wasn’t… It was my class… that’s what did it. I used to say to them, ‘Don’t call me Secretary of State, call me by my Christian name.’ I shook their hands… none of my predecessors shook their hands. I didn’t have a voice like ‘wonderful to see you.’
Taking to terrorists is the only way to beat them. I can’t understand why Tony didn’t understand that. Gerry and Martin wanted to talk; of course they’d done dreadful things, but they’ve got wives, they want to play with their kids, they’re normal family men. I wanted to appear as normal as possible…. The most important thing… I was an ear listening. You have to allow that they believe in what they’re doing.
Tony seems to have learned nothing from history. If you want them to change their minds you have to talk to them. They won’t do it very willingly because they don’t trust you, but yes, you have to talk to terrorists.
Edward (a psychologist)
Colonel (a British Army colonel)
Rima (a journalist)
AAB (the ex-head of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Bethlehem)
Talking to Terrorists was written by Robin Soans and directed by Max Stafford-Clark after a year of interviews with people involved with or affected by terrorism. It continues at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs until 30 July 2005. The playtext is published by Oberon Books (priced £8.99).