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How Thatcher told Irish PM she wished the Irish wouldn’t come to Britain

Margaret Thatcher admitted ‘sending young boys to their deaths’ during the Troubles and that she did not want Irish people in Britain, newly released files reveal.

Documents from 1988 reveal the then prime minister conceded she did not know what to do about the Irish border as the country teetered on the brink of civil war.

She said the region contained the ‘biggest concentration of terrorists in the world’ and that she did not want Irish people in Britain.’ 

‘Your people come over to us. I wish they wouldn’t,’ she said. ‘They come looking for housing and services. It’s the same in Northern Ireland. 

Documents from 1988 reveal the then prime minister (pictured) conceded she did not know what to do about the Irish border as the country teetered on the brink of civil war

Following a 14-day period of violence she clashed with Irish Taoiseach Charles Haughey, demanding more intelligence on the IRA and fretting about the border.

Mrs Thatcher and Mr Haughey held an ‘unusually tense’ tete-a-tete during a European Council meeting in June 1988, files from the National Archives in Dublin show. 

During the summit in Hanover, Germany, Mrs Thatcher condemned the ‘savagery’ of the IRA after the murder of two undercover British soldiers.

The records show she told Mr Haughey: ‘I do not know what to do about the border.’

The revelations come as concerns grow over the prospect of a hard border being introduced at the frontier between Northern Ireland and the Republic. 

Days later, the IRA pulled two undercover British soldiers from their car, beat them (pictured) and shot them dead after they drove inadvertently into the funeral procession of one of the Milltown victims

Days later, the IRA pulled two undercover British soldiers from their car, beat them (pictured) and shot them dead after they drove inadvertently into the funeral procession of one of the Milltown victims

Mrs Thatcher and Mr Haughey (pictured) held an ‘unusually tense’ tete-a-tete during a European Council meeting in June 1988, files from the National Archives in Dublin show

Mrs Thatcher and Mr Haughey (pictured) held an ‘unusually tense’ tete-a-tete during a European Council meeting in June 1988, files from the National Archives in Dublin show

The topic has dominated Brexit talks, amid fears it could end the peace brokered with the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. 

Mrs Thatcher’s comments followed a spate of violence that began in March of 1988, when three IRA members believed to be planning a car bomb attack were killed by the SAS in Gibraltar. 

The men were later found to be unarmed and no bomb was discovered.

Three mourners at their funeral at Milltown cemetery in Belfast were then killed by loyalists in a gun and grenade attack.

Margaret Thatcher said she was ‘not winning the battle with the IRA’, sending in troops had been ‘useless’ and she had ‘lost’ unionists in the north

Margaret Thatcher said she was ‘not winning the battle with the IRA’, sending in troops had been ‘useless’ and she had ‘lost’ unionists in the north

Days later, the IRA pulled two undercover British soldiers from their car, beat them and shot them dead after they drove inadvertently into the funeral procession of one of the Milltown victims.

‘Those two corporals were among the worst things in my life,’ Mrs Thatcher told Mr Haughey.

‘The savagery was unbelievable.’

She said a move towards a united Ireland would spark ‘the worst civil war in history’ that would ‘spread to the mainland’. 

If there was a vote tomorrow they would vote to stay with us.’ Several times she pleaded with Mr Haughey – who denied suggestions he was soft on violence – for more pre-emptive intelligence about the IRA, and better training for the Irish police.

‘If we don’t defeat the IRA, I don’t know what I’m going to do,’ she said. ‘We can’t have the border open as it is now.

‘They are using the border to carry on an effective campaign.’

She returned to the border as being central to her despair several times during the meeting, saying the IRA was using it to move bombs over from the Republic or to flee from security forces in the north.

‘I can’t seal the border,’ she said. ‘There is no way we can patrol the 500 miles. Everywhere there is an open border.’ 

Mrs Thatcher said the area contained the ‘biggest concentration of terrorists in the world’ and ‘despite technological and other surveillance we lose them’.

‘So, yes,’ she added, ‘I must send more young boys over to their deaths. I ask myself, am I entitled to do it? There is a border line … but it is not an effective border.’

During the exchanges, she said she was ‘not winning the battle with the IRA’, sending in troops had been ‘useless’ and she had ‘lost’ unionists in the north.

‘So I have failed,’ she said. ‘I have to deal with guns, bombs, beating people to death with sticks and many other barbaric acts.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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