Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Adams scathing on Thatcher legacy

Visit of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at St. Angelo Airport outside Enniskillen where she is pictured inspecting the 39 Field Regiment of Royal Artillery who presented her with a beret by Col Kit Faith, 6th March 1981
Visit of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at St. Angelo Airport outside Enniskillen where she is pictured inspecting the 39 Field Regiment of Royal Artillery who presented her with a beret by Col Kit Faith, 6th March 1981

In death as she did in life, Lady Thatcher has fiercely divided political opinion in Northern Ireland.

While Sinn Fein accused the former prime minister of causing great suffering, the Democratic Unionists have described her as one of the greatest political figures of post-war Britain.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams reacted to the announcement of Baroness Thatcher's death with a scathing assessment of her political legacy in Ireland and elsewhere.

Margaret Thatcher has long been vilified in republican circles over her involvement in Northern Ireland, in particular her handling of the IRA hunger strikes inside the Maze prison in the early 1980s. She was a top target of the IRA, which nearly succeeded in killing her in the deadly Brighton bomb blast of 1984.

"Margaret Thatcher did great hurt to the Irish and British people during her time as British prime minister," claimed Mr Adams.

"Working class communities were devastated in Britain because of her policies. Here in Ireland her espousal of old draconian militaristic policies prolonged the war and caused great suffering."

The DUP may have strongly opposed Mrs Thatcher's decision to give the Republic of Ireland a greater role in Northern Ireland affairs with the signing of the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement, but its current leader Peter Robinson still hailed her as a defender of the Union.

"It is with great sadness that I have learned of the passing of Baroness Thatcher, our former prime minister," said Stormont's First Minister.

"Margaret Thatcher was a transformative and powerful prime minister. She was undoubtedly one of the greatest political figures of post-war Britain and she changed the face of our United Kingdom forever."

Lord Bannside, formerly Ian Paisley Snr, said the ex-prime minister was a "great". "Our country has become much the poorer for the passing of Baroness Thatcher," he said.

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