Boy (10) sent Maze redesign to Thatcher

Belfast papers show child’s detailed plan to turn prison into a real maze

The letter followed the escape of 38 Provisional IRA prisoners from the Maze in September 1983. Photograph: PA Photo

The letter followed the escape of 38 Provisional IRA prisoners from the Maze in September 1983. Photograph: PA Photo

Fri, Dec 27, 2013, 01:00

“Dear Prime Minister, I have just been watching the news on TV about the prisoners escaping from the Maze.”

So began a letter from a 10-year-old to British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, which went on: “This word Maze brought to mind an idea of how to improve the security . . . by building a maze of bricks and concrete around the top security prisons.” This was accompanied by an extremely elaborate diagram.

It is one of a large number of letters released by the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland relating to the escape of 38 Provisional IRA prisoners from the Maze prison in September 1983.

Stormont civil servants drafted elegant replies to letters from prominent citizens. Others were simply marked: “No Reply”.

One man who did not get a reply had written to Mrs Thatcher offering to design secure prison cells. “I am not a greedy man especially when it comes to doing this for my country . . . so all I wish is the best computer in the business which is good for games and for business and £1000.00 [sic]”. He added: “P.S. I think your
[sic] wonderful”.