Thatcher and the IRA: Dealing with Terror.

Thatcher’s strategy for dealing with the IRA was shaped by Airy Neave, former British Army officer, barrister and politician. It was a simple solution best summed up in the words of Rev. Ian Paisley: No Surrender to the IRA. Mrs Thatcher’s colleagues suggested she thought of it in terms of Hitler’s march into the Sudentan and as a staunch Unionist she could not allow this. The analogy between Thatcher and Hitler is perhaps a bit too farfetched, but after The Falkland’s War the Conservative Party won the election in a landslide. Thatcher was pretty much untouchable. The IRA tried. They’d taken out her protégé Airy Neave with a car bomb. Sunk Mountbatten’s yacht and began a bombing campaign in mainland Britain. One of my neighbours told me the best solution would be to nuke Ireland and I’m sure this would have got broad cross-party support and was a popular option. A military solution of more arrests, more detentions, torture of suspects and harassment of the Republican community meant support and recruitment increased. Over 100 000 lined the streets for the funerals of the IRA hunger strikers and the paramilitary were shown firing rifles over the coffins draped in Republican colours before burial.  The Brighton Hotel bomb in 1984 was one of the highlights of the Conservative Party conference. Five were killed and Thatcher remains suitably defiant. No Surrender to the IRA. Behind the scenes President Reagan, god bless his little cotton socks, was concerned about Ireland. The military solution was costing more and more and the body count was rising. There was still a No Surrender policy, but a couple of Anglo-Irish agreements. You’ll see footage of Ian Paisley standing in front of Thatcher and going through his full cabaret of invective about betrayal and being British. British not Irish. Strange bedfellows. Enoch Powell found a seat as Unionist MP. It was suggested that behind the scenes the Thatcher government were talking to the IRA leadership. Gerry Adams does not remember this. But Gerry Adams doesn’t remember a lot of things that don’t suit him. What I remember is an ingrained hatred of all things Irish. I was a Celtic man and that has not changed. Peace in Ireland. Not in my lifetime.


A Tory politician, I can't remember who, once visited the North of Ireland and instantly commented 'G-d what a bloody awful country.' So who says Tories know nothing? I remember some of the boneheaded jokes flying around in 1981, crass jokes about Bobby Sands, a joke no better about Mountbatten. None of it funny in realtime.

Have to hope it all continues getting less violent. More peaceful. Have to hope for the best.       Elsie