Strikers travel to South Africa only to be refused entry.

Invited by Bishop Desmond Tutu to visit South Africa on a fact-finding mission, the strikers planned a visit for July 1985, the one-year anniversary of their strike. Eight of them set off, accompanied by Brendan Archbold, their IDATU union organiser and other supporters. When they arrived in London for a connecting flight from Dublin, they were told they would not be allowed on the plane and would have to apply for visas. They disputed this, as they were Irish and British citizens, who did not require visas to go to South Africa. Eventually they boarded the flight to Johannesburg, but when the plane landed, they were accosted by police and army forces and sent back to London eight hours later. 

Reporter Mary Fanning was at Dublin Airport when they got home. Well-wishers waiting to greet them included Seán MacBride, Fr Niall O’Brien, Bishop Dermot O’Mahony and members of the anti-apartheid movement. In this report, Archbold and Don Mullan of the Justice and Peace Group, described their treatment at the hands of the authorities and British Airways staff.

The incident was widely reported in the media, becoming a turning point in the strike.