Thatcher Visits Ulster, Vows to Defeat Terrorism
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher paid a surprise visit to Northern Ireland on Wednesday and said that Britain is more determined than ever to defeat terrorism.
“I feel strongly that terrorism must never, never win,” she told a group of police officers and widows of murdered members of the police force in east Belfast. “If it did, that would spell the end of democracy.”
Later, Protestant demonstrators in Lisburn yelled “Traitor, traitor, traitor!” and “Go back to England!” as the heavily guarded prime minister made her way through the streets of that city, where six soldiers were killed by an Irish Republican Army bomb in June.
The demonstrators oppose the 1985 Anglo-Irish agreement giving the Irish Republic a voice in Northern Ireland’s administrative affairs. Some Protestants see the accord as the first step toward a united, Catholic-dominated Ireland.
Thatcher, who escaped an IRA assassination attempt at a 1984 conference of her governing Conservative Party, told the Belfast police officers she had heard people suggest that more IRA attacks would make the public weary.
“You don’t know the spirit of Northern Ireland or the spirit of the United Kingdom,” she said.
“The more difficult things are, the greater our resolve, determination and courage to defeat that terrorism, which is a cancer in our midst.”
The outlawed IRA is fighting to oust Britain from Protestant-dominated Northern Ireland, also known as Ulster, and unite the province with the predominantly Roman Catholic Irish Republic under a socialist government.