Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Forget Iron Lady's charisma and judge on results

With the passing of the 'Iron Lady', Margaret Thatcher, the Anglo-Irish Agreement 1985 is seen by many as a breakthrough (News, April 9).

The reality of the agreement was the signing of a death-warrant for many in Northern Ireland. It was an attempt to calm relations and it backfired disastrously.

Why do so many foolishly think it was the start of the peace process? To many unionists, it was – still is – the unwelcome start of the hollowing-out of the Union.

The peace process began with the Downing Street Declaration of 1993. The Anglo-Irish Agreement sparked serious violence in Northern Ireland and was too much of a step to take for unionists at the time.

The Anglo-Irish Agreement was a bad agreement and it is almost certainly the case that republicans were not happy with it, either.

There were many regrets after its signing and a sinking feeling that those in power were losing control and were out of touch with what was happening on the ground. The agreement was a dreadful political and public relations exercise that represented the highest degree of political failure and stupidity. Margaret Thatcher's legacy in Northern Ireland was very poor in contrast to her successor, John Major.

The Iron Lady's reign was one of overpowering charisma rather than political talent. We should always judge by results, not by style.

MAURICE FITZGERALD

Shanbally, Co Cork

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