Sunday 24 September 2017

Thatcher's snub

Charles Haughey, on the steps of 10 Downing Street with Margaret Thatcher.
Charles Haughey, on the steps of 10 Downing Street with Margaret Thatcher.

BRITISH Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher refused to use Air Corps helicopters during a visit to Ireland, forcing the government to spend IR£8,063 on chartering special choppers.

The revelation came as documents in the State Archives detail discussions between the Departments of the Taoiseach and Justice over who should pay the bill. Mrs Thatcher visited Ireland from December 7-9, 1983, to meet with Taoiseach Charles Haughey.

DUKES'S HOLIDAY

FINANCE Minister Alan Dukes angrily refused to confirm where he planned to holiday in 1983, accusing the Irish media of "impertinence".

State archives reveal that Mr Dukes wrote to Government Information Service director, Joe Jennings, on June 22, to refuse a request for details on his summer holiday plans. "Where I go on holidays is my business and I don't intend to discuss it with anybody. Why not ask the media gurus where they are going?"

SOVIET AIRLINE BAN

IRELAND agreed to ban Soviet airlines from the tarmac at Shannon just ten days before the Cold War narrowly avoided nuclear catastrophe.

State papers released under the 30-year rule show US president Ronald Reagan sent a direct request for Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald to stop Aeroflot stopovers after a civilian airliner was blown out of the sky.

The blanket ban was ordered after the Soviets shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007 on September 1, 1983 near Sakhalin island in the Sea of Japan after it strayed into Russian air space.

ARTICLE IRKED HILLERY

PRESIDENT Patrick Hillery may have felt an urge to "punch the editor of (an Irish) magazine" on the nose after an objectionable article. Attorney General Peter Sutherland was asked in May 1983 for his opinion about an article in 'Magill' magazine, then edited by Vincent Browne, which presidential advisers felt was defamatory. "If the contents of the article are libellous of the President, whether as the President or personally, the question of whether or not they constitute a criminal libel is a matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions," he said.

DOCKYARD CRISIS

EFFORTS to save Cork's Verolme dockyard were stepped up by the government in 1983, newly released official papers have confirmed. But bids to head off a crisis at the plant, which once had a workforce exceeding 1,200, failed and Verolme was closed just a year or so later.

Irish Independent

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