Mrs Thatcher, accompanied by her husband Denis, flew into Aldergrove Airport at about nine this morning, amid tight security. First stop on her tour of the Province was the town of Newtownards, south of Belfast, where she greeted Christmas shoppers on the crowded High Street. As onlookers pressed closer some called “more security please” . Mrs Thatcher's party which included Northern Ireland Secretary, James Prior, then visited the town police station where she spoke to the widows of officers murdered by terrorists:
Each time I return to the Province you always say will you come back again, and we always do, of course we do. It is part of the United Kingdom and we always want to demonstrate our total support to you in the difficult and arduous work you are doing and the bravery and courage with which you do it. We should not be able to keep our freedom and rule of law, but for the work of the security forces, the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the Ulster Defence Regiment and the great support of the people of the Province. It needs us all to do it. Democracy is the rejection of violence and we're never, never going to be defeated by bombs and bullets, not here or anywhere else in the world.
Later, Mrs Thatcher went to Armagh to meet members of the UDR. She expressed her satisfaction following a speech by the Irish Premier, Dr FitzGerald, calling for greater co-operation in the war against terrorism. In a message to the Province at the end of her visit the Prime Minister said Christmas was a time of peace, that peace had been cruelly shattered by the Harrods bombing in London, as it had been shattered many times in Ulster. But such inhuman and contemptible actions would never achieve their objectives. [end p1](2) Statement issued at lunchtime, 23 December 1983.
“Each time I come here you always say when will you come back. We always do, because you are part of the UK and we always want to demonstrate our total support in your difficult and arduous work.
“We are not going to be able to keep our freedom but for the work of the Security Forces, the RUC and UDR and the great support of the people of the Province.
“It needs us all for it to work. Democracy is the rejection of violence. We are never never going to be defeated by bombs or bullets, not here nor anywhere else in the world.
“We believe in certain things very strongly, we believe in our way of life, we are determined to keep it.”
The Prime Minister said how impressed she had been at the police station. “You have very great and very wide duties and you carry them out magnificently”. She expressed words of sympathy for those who were affected or damaged by the effects of the troubles.
She said how much we owed to the widows. “We owe them a lot, we admire the strength and fortitude that they have shown in difficult days.
“We have come to demonstrate our affection and full support for the Province and the people and we do so in very practical ways. We have a superb Jim PriorSecretary of State for Northern Ireland who is dedicated to the people of the Province. I wish them all a happy and peaceful Christmas”.