Thatcher surprises Belfast with a visit

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher paid a surprise visit to Northern Ireland and went on a walking tour of Belfast's main shopping center, flanked by police in bulletproof vests. She was greeted with shouts of both praise an anger. The morale-boosting one-day trip came as the Irish Republican Army prepared to name an inmate to replace prison hunger striker Brendan McLaughlin, who ended his fast after 14 days because of medical problems.

Mrs. Thatcher's visit, her third in three months, was kept secret until after her plane landed. She had a formal meeting with Lord Mayor John Carson, and also met with Northern Ireland Secretary Humphrey Atkins and community leaders at Stormont Castle. Mrs. Thatcher was also to meet Army and police heads for a briefing on the violence that began May 5 with the death of hunger striker Bobby Sands.

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