The day Thatcher got it right!

Fr Patrick Ryan with fellow IRA godfather Gerry Adams

One highlight of Irish National Archives releases publicised this morning involves Mrs Thatcher’s fury at Belgian PM Wilfried Martens, after the Belgians had refused to extradite the notorious IRA priest Fr Patrick Ryan.

The documents relate to events following Ryan’s arrest in 1988 by Belgian police who found a large quantity of cash and bomb-making equipment in his home.

In a repeat of events more than forty years earlier, when French and Belgian authorities took a similarly soft line with Jewish terrorists involved in anti-British atrocities, the Belgians refused to extradite the terrorist priest to London.

Mrs Thatcher was understandably furious, and the official documents released today record her reaction. Martens went on to be the elder statesman of European conservatism, and the whole affair sheds a cynical light on claims that cooperation with Europe is important on ‘security’ grounds.

It’s a sign of our times that today’s report of this in the Daily Mail omits to mention Fr Ryan’s recent gleeful confession to the BBC that Thatcher was “100%” correct to see him as a key player in atrocities such as the Brighton bomb, the IRA’s Libya connection, etc. He boasted of having been personally responsible for devising a foolproof bomb timer, based on a commercially available mini-alarm.

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