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Saturday 21 September 2019

State Papers 1988: Thatcher 'obsessional on violence' and fixated on extraditions to UK


Disturbed: British PM Margaret Thatcher
Disturbed: British PM Margaret Thatcher

British prime minister Margaret Thatcher was "obsessional on violence" and fixated on extraditing suspected IRA members to the UK, according to newly released papers.

The papers revealed how relations between Ms Thatcher and Taoiseach Charles Haughey began to "turn sour" at the end of 1987, when the extradition issues came to the fore.

Discussions which took place at the Anglo-Irish relations meeting in London in June 1988 indicated the PM's frustration on a number of issues.

In his memo to officials, secretary to the government Dermot Nally said British cabinet secretary Robin Butler was critical of the Taoiseach for not condemning violence in a number of speeches which he made in the United States.

Mr Nally replied that Mr Haughey had addressed academics, doctors and lawyers, and that they did not need to be told they should not support murder.

However, in the British official's view, the speeches had "obliterated a great deal of the good that had gone before" and there was a lot to be made up in Anglo-Irish relations.

"The British side said that the prime minister was obsessional on violence for reasons of principle and reasons of person," Mr Nally wrote.

"She would never yield to it from any quarter, whether it was Libyan violence, Iranian violence or the violence of the IRA.

"This is why she took such a hard line on the absence of references in the Taoiseach's American speeches. The subject affected her deeply and emotionally."

The Irish official was also told that Ms Thatcher had become "increasingly disturbed" over the extradition issues which was said to have caused her "considerable frustration".

The British officials criticised the flow of information from intelligence from Ireland to Northern Ireland, describing it as "exiguous".

However, the Irish officials disputed this, saying the Irish experience was in direct contradiction.

Irish Independent

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