As the seven hunger strikers at the Maze Prison in Belfast kept the Northern Ireland situation on the boil, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher flew to Dublin dec. 8 for five hours of talks with her Irish counterpart, Charles Haughey, Monitor correspondent Rushworth M. Kidder reports.
Accompanying her was a particularly high-powered delegation -- the foreign secretary, Lord Carrington; the chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Geoffrey Howe; and the secretary of state for Northern Ireland, Humphrey Atkins. Their presence led to speculation that Mrs. Thatcher was seeking support from Mrs. thatcher was seeking support from Mr. Haughey for a new political initiative on Northern Ireland.
Mr. Haughey, who has toughened the republic's measures against guerrillas from the Provisional wing of the illegal Irish Republican Army operating from his side of the border, has urged Britain to reform prison rules in Northern Ireland jails. Most of the inmates in the north have been convicted on terrorist offenses, often without normal judicial process because of threats of intimidation to witnesses.
After the meeting, Mr. Haughey hinted that there had been significant behind-the-scenes developments toward resolving the hunger strike. The delegates also decided to commission a joint study into a new relationship between Britain and Ireland.