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1990 Jul 30 Mo
Margaret Thatcher

Remarks on murder of Ian Gow by the IRA

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Remarks
Venue: Outside No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: Morning. Exact time unclear.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 983
Themes: Autobiographical comments, Northern Ireland, Terrorism

Journalist

Prime Minister, [words inaudible] … your reaction?

MT

We find it [hard] to realise that Ian GowIan is no longer with us. He came into Parliament in 1974. Immediately it was obvious that he and I shared the same kind of beliefs and approach towards politics. He worked very closely with us in opposition, very closely with Airey Neave, too. And then when I became Prime Minister he became my first parliamentary Private Secretary. And so every day for four years he went through that door behind me and was in No. 10 and in Parliament. And I don't think I could have done those four years without Ian GowIan: always encouraging, very warm, very friendly and we shared this same political view.

After that he became a minister, and then he was not able to carry on with us because he disagreed with the Anglo-Irish Agreement, and so we lost him as a minister. But always he kept very close from the back benches. He was a unique person, loved in all sides of the House, always fun to be with, and always very serious as well—a person who was a friend in all weathers. Sometimes during difficult times between then and now he's come and said: “Look, you're having quite a hard time, come and have supper with Jane GowJane and me” and we would go down to his house and talk, as really I couldn't talk to quite anyone else, as I really couldn't talk to anyone else. He is an enormous loss to Parliament. He used to take up vigorously the cases of all of his constituents and there are one or two very famous cases that he succeeded. He hated bureaucracy. He's a great loss to Parliament, he's a great loss to us all. It's a tragedy. He and Jane GowJane were a lovely couple. She supported him tremendously and I still remember, and shall always remember that when they had supper Jane GowJane would play the piano, she's a marvellous pianist.

Ian GowIan would be the first to say, like Airey, that terrorists must never win, and if he could speak to me now he would say: You fight that battle against them, you bring them to justice to see that they're properly condemned and found guilty for what they have done” . And that's how we shall carry on.

Journalist

Prime Minister, Mr. Gow was his own man. You and he had your disagreements as you said over the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Did that matter, or was that part of him?

MT

Not in any way. We talked it through, he still supported us in everything else we did and I think lived to see things improving among the Unionist Party in Northern Ireland and that they were nothing like so fearful of us it now as they used to be.

Journalist

Were you able to speak to his wife?

MT

I have not yet been able to speak toJane GowJane, but that I fully understand.

Journalist

… a message for his wife and family?

MT

I will deliver a message to Jane GowJane, of course, as soon as I am able to.

[Inaudible request from photographer.]

MT

I beg your pardon?

[Further inaudible request from photographer.]

Photographer

Look this way Mrs Thatcher.

MT

[end p1]

Michael, you know, as I say, that day after day he was just especially close and remained close, and it is a, it's a cruel blow to his family and to us, but in tribute to Ian GowIan we shall have to carry on to fight the terrorist and continue to fight him. And we just have now another extra special feeling for those families who have suffered from terrorism, as Ian GowIan's family has. The day starts normally, full of hope, and all of a sudden your world is broken.

Journalist

Do you think you feared something like this might happen?

MT

I think intellectually you always do, you know, you know, you know the risk intellectually. I think you perhaps think that it won't happen to you, although I remember it brought back all of what happened to Airey, I heard about that in my constituency and couldn't believe that. It's still difficult to believe that Ian GowIan won't come in and say “Come on, things are not very easy, come and have supper” .

Journalist

[Inaudible question.]

MT

But clearly on this occasion he didn't, and I think it is a warning to all members and to their families, to their staffs and to those who work so loyally with us in No. 10 that you simply cannot be too careful. Thank you.

Journalist

Prime Minister, this will obviously create terrible feelings of revulsion of all kinds because the impact is that greater, it's a member of the House of Commons, and people will no doubt say “For heavens sake, what can we do?”

MT

[Speaking with a very measured, determined tone:] No one should harbour any member of the IRA, they should be prepared to come forward to give evidence. No matter where you are in Ireland, no matter where, if you believe in democracy, if you believe in freedom, you should come forward to give evidence so that the police can move in and make an arrest. And anyone who has any evidence or who knows anything that they think might be useful, come forward, that is the way to track down the people responsible, and in tracking them down to prevent it happening to other people.

Journalist

What do you think of people …

MT

Thank you.