Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1988 Dec 3 Sa
Margaret Thatcher

Radio Interview for IRN (Rhodes European Council)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Radio Interview
Venue: Castle of the Grand Knights, Rhodes
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: John Fraser, IRN
Editorial comments: Between 1430 and 1630.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1323
Themes: European Union (general), European Union Single Market, Foreign policy (Western Europe - non-EU), Law & order, Northern Ireland, Race, immigration, nationality, Terrorism

John Fraser, IRN

Could I ask you about your discussions with your Irish and Belgian colleagues over the Ryan affair? You appear to have been very stern, very annoyed, very angry at the way things have turned. How seriously do you feel about Ryan and how worried would you be if he were not extradited to Britain because of the actions of Belgium and Ireland?

Prime Minister

The prosecuting authorities think the charges should be made against Ryan having had regard to the evidence. That being so, the police of both Britain and Belgium work very well together, the prosecuting authorities of Britain and Belgium work very well together. The courts of Belgium gave an extradition order, Courts of First Instance, and the Appeal Court upheld it.

When such things happen in Britain, as with the Heysel Stadium, the next stage is that the Home Secretary decides and [end p1] of course the Douglas HurdHome Secretary abided by the decisions of the courts and extradited to Belgium.

In the case of Belgium, the decisions at the courts were all in favour of extradition and the decision was overturned by the Cabinet.

John Fraser, IRN

The Belgian Prime Minister says that the Belgian Cabinet has the final decision, that the courts had overlooked some legal arguments, and that under their law he was perfectly entitled to do what he did?

Prime Minister

It is a devastating criticism of the courts of his own country, that the Court of First Instance and the Appeal Court could overlook legal arguments but a body of people who are not professional lawyers could nevertheless find them.

I find it very difficult to comprehend that.

John Fraser, IRN

But he says that he is a professional lawyer, three-quarters of his Cabinet are qualified in law and they say that under their constitution they are the body which has the authority to take the final decision. Why can't you accept that, surely you would not expect them to question a decision by your Cabinet? [end p2]

Prime Minister

They are the body to take the final decision, that I accept, as the Home Secretary in our country is the person to take the final decision.

What I find utterly astonishing is that this is a legal matter which has not been identified either by the Court of First Instance, by anyone in the Court of First Instance, or among those who decided the case, it should not have been identified by the Court of Appeal, but that it should have been identified in a non-court by people who are essentially in the Cabinet as politicians and that those who I would have thought were lawyers would have said straight away: “If there is a legal point, it must go back to the courts to decide” , because it is for the courts to decide legal point and then when the legal points have been sorted out by the courts, for final decisions to be taken, in our case by the Home Secretary, or in their case by the Cabinet.

John Fraser, IRN

Could I take you on to your discussions with the Irish leader, Mr Haughey, what was your message for him over the Ryan affair? [end p3]

Prime Minister

How very strongly we felt that the warrant sent by the Sir Patrick MayhewAttorney General had not been used or they had not used their own procedures to arrest someone who is charged with serious offences. Naturally we feel very strongly about it. We have suffered a great deal both in Northern Ireland, in the United Kingdom, our soldiers, two murdered on the continent.

So of course we feel strongly if any warrant with specific charges is not backed. We were not asking immediately for extradition, that takes a long time to decide. What we were saying was these are the charges, this is our Attorney General's warrant, you can either arrest on backing that or issue your own. Neither was done and of course we feel strongly.

How do you think those many many people who have been bereaved or injured, how do you think they feel?

John Fraser, IRN

Were you given any assurances that the Irish Government are either going to arrest Ryan or are trying to speed up their discussions and their decision on Britain's extradition request.

Prime Minister

I think that the law under which they are operating, which they changed unilaterally from a previous agreement they had with us, clearly is not working as it should. [end p4]

I am the first to agree that the Irish Government, Mr Haughey, had this case suddenly dumped upon them, totally unexpectedly, by a decision of the Belgian Government. But the law which they specifically designed to deal with these matters is not working as it should and I can only ask them to reconsider that because they changed it unilaterally.

John Fraser, IRN

Do you have any assurance that they are going to?

Prime Minister

When it was brought in, I was assured, and I believe Mr Haughey gave the assurance also publicly, that if it did not work properly then he would consider making any necessary changes to make it work properly.

He and I both agree that it is necessary to have extradition procedures so that people can in fact be tried in the courts of the country where the offence was committed, to have extradition procedures in which we can both have confidence and which are seen to work.

That is vital for the apprehension of those charged with terrorism and for bringing them before the courts for the courts to decide. [end p5]

John Fraser, IRN

To sum up on this matter, are Anglo-Irish relations in a worse state because of the Ryan affair?

Prime Minister

The Ryan matter is not yet concluded as far as Ireland is concerned. There are still matters to be considered and it is quite open to the Irish Government through, not the Irish Government, but to the Attorney General, to in fact either back the warrant or to arrest the person who is mentioned in our warrant and then consider whether he should be extradited.

John Fraser, IRN

You seem very despondent on this?

Prime Minister

Yes, of course. We are the target of terrorism. We have suffered very very greatly and I would hope that all our allies would strain every muscle to see that terrorism is defeated. It is the negation of democracy.

John Fraser, IRN

Turning to the Common Market Summit itself, you were discussing 1992, the abolition of barriers to the movement of goods throughout the Community. I believe that you are very worried about [end p6] the abolition of frontier controls on people for terrorism and also because of the dangers of drug smuggling and other crime, do you think that the Common Market will take on board your problems and your concerns?

Prime Minister

Yes, I think they are doing and I think they will have to. Talking about the abolition of quite a number of controls, no-one has talked about the abolition of borders, the reduction of border controls, but they recognise that if they are going to go ahead and substantially reduce those, they must have an effective alternative to catch criminals. Without that we shall have no rule of law in the Community.

John Fraser, IRN

And 1992 itself, we have had a progress report on the legislation that has been passed to bring us to this Single Common Market, do you think that that legislation is going ahead on schedule?

Prime Minister

I think the legislation is going ahead really quite well. It is said, yes, that some of the most difficult things have still to be decided. That is true. And not all of them will be decided [end p7] because there is fundamental disagreement as to whether some are necessary for the completion of the Single Market. I do not think that they all are.

But we are going ahead and dealing with some very difficult ones where we think that the Directives are justified.