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1987 Nov 8 Su
Margaret Thatcher

Remarks on IRA bombing of Enniskillen Remembrance Day Service

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Outside No.10 Downing Street
Source: BBC Sound Archive: OUP transcript
Editorial comments:

Late morning. MT spoke to the press immediately after returning from the Cenotaph.

Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 915
Themes: Northern Ireland, Terrorism

First Journalist

Prime Minister, your reaction please to what's happened in Enniskillen?

MT

We'd just got back from the Cenotaph service when, the minute I got in, I was handed a note giving me the news then of this terrible bomb in Enniskillen. It was so appalling. Really, I could scarcely believe it, because every civilised country honours and respects their dead, and every civilised country expects others to honour their dead too. And to take advantage of those people assembling in that way was really a desecration. It was so cruel, so callous, that the people who did it can have nothing of human thoughtfulness or kindness or sensitivity at all. It was utterly barbaric and it really means that those people have, not only the anxiety of those whom they'd lost, but also an extra anxiety. And I have had the latest figures for those people who have been killed and those who are injured, and we don't know the full extent of it yet. I hope .... well, two things immediately. First, that everyone will concentrate their efforts on finding these people who've done it and bringing them to justice. There should be no hiding place in any country for these people. And secondly, I hope that anyone the world over who has ever had any sympathy, however misplaced, for these will not have any more now, because every nation should honour it's dead and give the people who've lost their relatives and the people who appreciate what the dead did for us .... They should .... We should all be able to stand and honour them in peace.

First Journalist

Prime Minister, we understand that most of those hurt today are civilians.

MT

That also is my understanding. They .... It was a bad day I understand and they took shelter in a building and the wall fell upon them. I also understand that there was no warning given. It is the most cruel, callous action that we've heard of for a long time, taking advantage of everything that's decent in human nature. Of course we go, we go individually, we go because we recognise what those people who have died in two world wars and in many conflicts and troubles since, that they're in the front-line and what they do for us; and to take advantage of all the best feelings of human nature, to do something that is most terrible, is really desecrating the dead, and a blot on mankind.

Second Journalist

Prime Minister, do you think that there's been a breach of security here? How could it happen?

MT

We always ask how it could happen. It .... it happens because there is no such thing as 100 per cent security. You can take massive precautions, as we do take, and then [end p1] somehow you cannot cover absolutely everything, although however much we try. And I feel just exactly the same as everyone else does about it. It was .... I could scarcely believe it. I could scarcely believe it. And one of the reasons why anyone who would do such a terrible thing would be condemned the world over by every nation, and I hope that will happen, and no help to them. No matter any country's had sympathy with them before, no help to them now, not ever.

Second Journalist

Do you think this was a revenge attack by the IRA?

MT

I don't know.

First Journalist

The security services have been warning about ....

MT

It is .... it's total inhumanity. Yes, you do expect terrorist attacks, but look at the other .... That is total inhumanity. So was the attack on Harrods' when people were doing their Christmas shopping with children. I expect that there are some children assembling there today. I haven't heard the full .... the full casualties. But, you see, you do tend to take some children so that they know that other people have to fight for the things which we take for granted, and then their lives are taken. But please, any nation, any country - no hiding place for these people. Get them to justice.

First Journalist

You sound as if you've been deeply upset about today's events.

MT

I came immediately. We had just been to our own Cenotaph. We had all just made our remembrance. Many people watch it on television, and may I say that the television does it marvellously. When you're there, it is even more compelling, even more emotional. And we had just been saying afterwards what a pity more children weren't able to see it. And I've always thought, wondered whether there would be any trouble on this occasion, and of course we have maximum security here, but equally I have always thought, what I hope will come to pass, that if anyone ever attempted trouble, it is totally uncivilised and it really goes to the root of religious belief. I don't think I can say more.

Second Journalist

A word for the relatives, Prime Minister?

MT

A word for the relatives. I cannot tell you how much we feel for you. We feel, we feel doubly, because many of those who went will have lost someone already, and to lose someone again .... We really cannot express our feelings deeply enough. I think that the shock is enormous and we'll do everything we can to help, and I hope all friends will do their best. They can't comfort you when you've had a terrible loss like this. All they [end p2] can do is be with you and let you know that other people do feel for you, and we will do everything we can to bring those people to justice.

First Journalist

And will you go to Enniskillen, Prime Minister?

MT

Now, just, we will consider that later.