THATCHER FLIES IN TO PROVINCE
PM ready to tackle security in surprise trip
The Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher, paid a surprise one-day visit to Northern Ireland today with security top of the agenda, following the recent upsurge in terrorist violence.
But as well as serious security talks, her itinerary included a look at everyday life in the province.
Mrs Thatcher visited factories in Londonderry and Coleraine, where she also met local school pupils.
In Coleraine, she praised local industry as “a great success story.”
The Prime Minister told factory workers: “If only we could get rid of terrorists, which we must do, there is a prosperous and secure future for the people of Northern Ireland.”
Accompanied by her husband Denis ThatcherDenis, Mrs Thatcher was met on arrival at Aldergrove by the Secretary of State, Mr Tom King, and the Army GOC, Lt-Gen Sir John Waters.
Later, the Prime Minister continued her security review—begun at Downing Street after the Ballygawley coach bomb, when eight soldiers were killed by the IRA.
A thorough briefing on security tactics was provided by senior advisers, including the Chief Constable, Sir John Hermon.
The Northern Ireland Office, which kept news of her visit under wraps until she had arrived this morning, said she was carrying out a series of engagements in various parts of the province.
Mrs Thatcher met industrialists, businessmen and security forces.
The Prime Minister also met police, when she visited RUC Garnerville, on the outskirts of Belfast.
Mrs Thatcher's last visit to Northern Ireland was also at a time of terrorist violence, when she attended an Enniskillen memorial service last November, following the IRA's Remembrance Day massacre.
In Coleraine, she praised the success story of local industry, which she said was not often told, during a tour of a firm in the town which won a £6m contract from Saudi Arabia earlier this year.
“But you are achieving good sales and a good standard of living from the work you are doing and I will be going home to tell the story,” she said.
Mrs Thatcher arrived by helicopter in Coleraine for their second engagement of the day—a visit to mapping company BKS Surveys.
A Wessex carrying the Prime Minister and her husband Denis touched down in the grounds of Christie Memorial Primary School next door.
The visitors then travelled in a seven car convoy led by the Secretary of State.
The building on the Ballycairn Road is the world headquarters of the mapping company and employs 170 people.
It is a world leader in the use of advanced computer aiding mapping technology for creating geographical information systems.
Mrs Thatcher was welcomed by managing director Mr Richard Stirling, who accompanied her on a brisk tour of the premises.
Inside the Prime Minister met staff and was presented with an aerial photograph of the Northern Ireland coastline by cartographer Miss Hilary Irwin. In the digitising room Mrs Thatcher spoke to some of the workers and told them that she was having a look at some industry.
“We are doing this because we think it is a great success story” she told them.
“If only we could get rid of terrorists, which we must do, there is a prosperous and secure future for the people of Northern Ireland.”
Mrs Thatcher and her party then walked from the offices outside where two-year-old Carrie Graham, who lives nearby, presented her with a posy of flowers.
Carrie 's mother Mrs Jane Graham was among a handful of people who braved the weather to greet the Prime Minister.