In November 1985 Margaret Thatcher signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Today, this development is usually presented as a natural part of a continuum leading logically to greater cross border cooperation and then to the IRA cease-fire and the subsequent Good Friday deal introducing power-sharing.

At the time the treaty signed between the UK and Irish governments was viewed quite differently. It was a thunderbolt. Unionists, the DUP in particular, were furious. They had not been consulted and accused Thatcher in biblical terms of betrayal. In Northern Ireland there were major demonstrations and a campaign of civil disobedience against the agreement. Two Unionist MPs were sent to prison for not paying car tax. The Agreement was hated on the basis that for the first time it gave the Dublin government some say, or consultation, over matters in Northern Ireland, which was and remains part of the UK.