Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1980 Dec 8 Mo
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for ITN (Anglo-Irish Summit)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: TV Interview
Venue: 12? Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Julian Haviland, ITN
Editorial comments: Later afternoon or early evening.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1099
Themes: Law & order, Northern Ireland, Terrorism

2. Mr. Julian Haviland, ITN 8 Dec. 1980.

Mr. Haviland

Prime Minister, the communique talks of new institutional structures (unclear) What do you mean by that?

PM

I think it talks of a possibility of exploring several things. First, better economic co-operation. And among the things which we explored are whether, because of the unique relationship between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, namely a land border and certain special citizenship rights, we should explore whether or not there is any possibility of giving institutional expression to that unique relationship. It is very much in the exploratory stages. It might be possible. It might not. We don't yet know.

Mr. Haviland

Do you believe there may be some possibility?

PM

We have to try to consider.

Mr. Haviland

Mr. Haughey (unclear) words as a confederation …

PM

… There is no possibility of a confederation.

Mr. Haviland

So do you and he see eye to eye on any aspect?

PM

Until I was asked this question early in the Press Conference the words had not been mentioned.

Mr. Haviland

Is ‘institutional structures’ a dangerous phrase to put in? It really means nothing.

PM

I don't think so. After all in a way we have already set up one new institution. We used only to have these bilateral conversations between the United Kingdom and Germany, between the United Kingdom and France and between the United Kingdom and Italy. There weren't any bilateral talks as part of the Community—in the Community context—between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. We have now set them up. That is a new institutional structure. It is quite a significant one. It means that we wish steadily to co-operation in a continuous way on matters of interest to us both. [end p1]

Mr. Haviland

But there is no contrary concept which you and Mr. Haughey share of an institutional structure which is …

PM

… No. The communique is what it says considering the possibility of institution structures. To consider whether or not it is possible.

Mr. Haviland

Do you and Mr. Haughey see absolutely eye to eye on resisting the Provisional IRA and resisting the hunger strikers.

PM

We both agree absolutely that violence is not a way to try to pursue politician aims. There is absolute agreement between the two of us and we get very good co-operation across the border on security matters in the interests of people North of the border and in the Republic of Ireland. And what we are really wanting to do now is to get more regular co-operation on what matters to us.

Mr. Haviland

Did he press you to make any concessions to the hunger strikers which you feel you cannot make?

PM

On the hunger strikes—no. One pointed out that first, before the hunger strike started, we decided that all prisoners in Northern Ireland should be allowed to wear civilian clothes—not their own—but civilian clothes issued by the prison governor, instead of prison uniform. That is available to all prisoners in Northern Ireland. Then last Thursday we did issue a full and complete list of all the rights and privileges that are available to prisoners in Northern Ireland. Not those on the blanket or the dirty strike but to all prisoners who are living a normal prison life within Northern Ireland. It really is a very impressive list. It happens that a number of things which the prisoners have been demanding are already available to all prisoners in Northern Ireland provided they conform to the normal prison life. And we had thought we had better set them all out. Now they have all been set out that statement was widely welcomed. The hunger strike had been condemned by the Church, by all political Parties in Northern Ireland, by some political Parties in the Republic of Ireland and Mr. Haughey and I are both at one in wanting the hunger strike to end and believing that the way is open for it to end on really what has already been done and what is available in that statement. [end p2]

Mr. Haviland

Has he yet condemned the hunger strike?

PM

I think if you look in the communique which was issued it really means that by implication he believes that the possibility of solving the hunger strike comes from that statement which we have already issued.

Mr. Haviland

Mr. Haughey still believes you won't get a political settlement in Northern Ireland unless his Government in Dublin is involved. Is that something you believe?

PM

When we were going ahead with trying to find a political settlement in Northern Ireland by talking with all the parties in Northern Ireland which is the proper way to do it. As you know, we issued a White Paper and we had extensive conversations but we just didn't get enough agreement on the way forward. Having said that in a major speech there is no possibility of bringing forward legislation on that basis so we are trying to find another way of trying to work together. Not necessarily another way for legislation.

Mr. Haviland

You haven't given up hope of finding a political settlement?

PM

In politics you never give up hope. We are always trying to get people to work more closely together. So long as violence continues it will be difficult to get them working closer together and that is why the very, very great co-operation between—across the border—between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are trying to bring an end to the violence. Because that is extremely important for the future of everyone whether it is in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland.

Mr. Haviland

Finally, do you think the determination of the Dublin Government to be involved if possible in this peace-making process is helpful or hinders you? [end p3]

PM

Co-operation we get on security measures. It is a tremendous help for the future of peace in Northern Ireland and for the future of the Republic of Ireland. Once you get violence, violence is pursued by people who are against democracy, the Republic of Ireland is a democracy and Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and that is a democracy and you must together (unclear) this terrible wave of violence. It has gone on for far too long.