Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Christmas Message for Northern Ireland

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: RAF Aldergrove, Co Antrim
Source: Belfast Telegraph, 22 December 1982
Journalist: Robin Morton, Belfast Telegraph, reporting
Editorial comments: MT recorded the message to be broadcast early that evening on BBC Northern Ireland.
Importance ranking: Minor
Word count: 430
Themes: Northern Ireland, Terrorism

“The Iron Lady” shows her mettle in Vister message

The Prime Minister, in a message to the people of Northern Ireland, has pledged the determination of the security forces to fight the “forces of darkness.”

Mrs. Thatcher, speaking after her one-day surprise Christmas visit to the province, said Northern Ireland was always in her thoughts.

She made the comments in the course of a television broadcast which she recorded in a special studio at RAF Aldergrove before leaving London yesterday afternoon.

Mrs. Thatcher said: “It is of course the season of peace and goodwill. The armed forces, the security forces, will do their best to fight those forces of darkness.

“Only we in this season can once again try to learn to live together because fighting for peace, freedom and justice means that we are free to live together in the way we choose.”

The Prime Minister added: “May I wish you all a very happy Christmas, and wish us all a good New Year in which we may once again strive for the things that matter so much to the future of our families and our country.”

Relating how she had spent the day in the province, Mrs. Thatcher described the occasion as “my customary Christmastide visit.”

She said that initially she had wondered whether in the wake of Ballykelly and the “daily tragedies” which occurred to the security forces, it would be right to wish people a “happy Christmas.”

In Bangor, she said, the decision was taken out of her hands.

“People came up to me and wished me a happy Christmas and said please don't forget us,” said the Prime Minister.

“That was really why I came today as most Christmases, just to say Northern Ireland is always in our thoughts and is never forgotten.”

During the visit to Musgrave Park Hospital military wing, Mrs. Thatcher said they were very much reminded of how much was owed to the courage and bravery of those in the security forces.

“They were all wonderful people,” she said. “They had all been through great trouble.

“They had all experienced Ballykelly, all been under fire, or had been ambushed or had had things thrown at them.

“Their morale was superb. They all said, we have a job to do, and our great desire is to get back and do it.”

Mrs. Thatcher said that the spirit of troops at Bessbrook was also “marvellous.”

“They have a job to do and they do it magnificently and we were so very very pleased to see them in such good heart,” said the Prime Minister.

Mrs. Thatcher said that during the visit to Armagh they had found that the RUC's determination to fight terrorism was absolute.