Sunday 19 May 2019

Revealed: Charles Haughey's charming letter to Margaret Thatcher - and her formal reply

Charles Haughey and Margaret Thatcher in 1980
Charles Haughey and Margaret Thatcher in 1980

Ed Carty

Charles Haughey and Margaret Thatcher were not quite on the same page when it came to exchanging pleasantries, state papers have revealed.

After the British Prime Minister won her third election in 1987, the Taoiseach wrote a charming letter to 10 Downing Street.

He kicked it off with: "Dear Margaret."

The letters, contained in files from the Taoiseach's office in Dublin and released under the 30-year rule, showed the PM's reply was a little shy of Mr Haughey's personal touch.

"Congratulations to you on your historic victory," Mr Haughey wrote.

"From our position here, we see it as a well deserved tribute to your great personal qualities, particularly your skill and resolution.

"I look forward to working with you in seeking ways constantly to improve the wide range of cultural, commercial and other relationships between our two countries in the European and wider context and, in particular, to bring an end to divisions in this island and lasting peace and stability to Northern Ireland in the framework which has already been set."

Mrs Thatcher chose a more formal approach and addressed her letter "Dear Mr Haughey".

"Thank you very much for your kind and generous message," she said.

The rest of the reply was very formal and suggested the two leaders would meet in Brussels with officials to work on the finer details.

"In the meantime I send you my best wishes," she said.

The letters from the Department of the Taoiseach are held by the National Archives in Dublin under reference 2017/10/56.

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