From 'as British as Finchley' to 'no selfish strategic interest'

: Thatcher, Northern Ireland and Anglo-Irish Relations, 1979 - 1990

  • Fiona McKelvey

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

During a parliamentary speech in November, 1981, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said that to her, "Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom; as much as my constituency is". This statement is commonly paraphrased and quoted as 'Northern Ireland is a British as Finchley.' The quote is often used as evidence of Thatcher's dedication to maintaining the union with Northern Ireland. It is surprising then that in 1990 Peter Brooke, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said in a public speech that the Thatcher Government had "no selfish economic or strategic interest" in Northern Ireland and that should the majority vote for unification, they would consent.       

             The principal aim of this project is to discover why the Thatcher Government's attitude towards Northern Ireland changed. It will be dominated by an exploration of how both governments addressed the issue of the perpetual Northern Irish crisis. This study will delve into the personal relationships between the key Anglo-Irish political figures of the decade, namely Thatcher, Charles J. Haughey and Garret FitzGerald. Public interest in Thatcher's time as Prime Minister was heightened following her death in 2013, the aftermath of which saw re-runs of television documentaries and interviews with her colleagues. Scholarly interest in the period has also grown due to the release of governmental records under the twenty-year and thirty-year rule in London, Dublin and Belfast. Overall, this is a timely study that aims to extract key information from the newly released records in order to explore Anglo-Irish relations between 1979-1990. Existing literature on Thatcher's premiership is comprehensive. However, a specific study of the attitude of the Thatcher Government towards Northern Ireland and Anglo-Irish relations has yet to be undertaken.
Date of AwardOct 2018
LanguageEnglish
Awarding Institution
SponsorsDEL
SupervisorKyle Hughes (Supervisor) & Robert Mc Namara (Supervisor)

Keywords

  • Security
  • Garret FitzGerald
  • Charles Haughey
  • Anglo-Irish Agreement

Cite this

From 'as British as Finchley' to 'no selfish strategic interest': Thatcher, Northern Ireland and Anglo-Irish Relations, 1979 - 1990
McKelvey, F. (Author). Oct 2018

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis