Margaret Thatcher’s legacy
A chara, – John B Reid’s fawning opinion of Margaret Thatcher’s legacy (April 9th) is not mine. In truth, her legacy is a divided Britain, with Scotland, Wales and the north of England still despising her and her Tory party; an annihilated mining industry among other industries; a failed poll tax; a person who saw herself as a good friend of the vicious right-wing dictator Gen Pinochet while supping with PW Botha and declaring Nelson Mandela a terrorist; the prime minister who ordered the torpedoing of the Belgrano with the loss of 323 lives as it sailed away from Britain’s unilaterally declared exclusion zone in the South Atlantic Ocean; and of course her real ignorance of matters relating to the north of Ireland, including her despicable and deliberately provocative handling of the hunger strikes.
Her legacy is that her politics, known as Thatcherism – a divisive promotion of greed and selfishness – is now a monument to failure. – Is mise,
Whitehall Road, Dublin 14.
Sir, – Upon hearing of her death, Gerry Adams spoke of how she caused “great hurt to British and Irish people.” (Home News, April 9th).
Mr Adams surely knows how to put the “iron” in irony. – Yours, etc,
A chara, – I have been shocked by the vitriolic tripe spouted by some people since news of Margaret Thatcher’s death broke. It is clear that many people still feel for those people affected by her policies all those years ago, but I’d never have imagined it to have erupted into such venom and hatred today.
Margaret Thatcher was not prime minister when she died. She was an old lady who suffered from Alzheimers. I did not agree with her politics at all , but for someone of her intellect and personal acumen, the manner and cause of her passing is quite sad. A modicum of decorum is called for! – Is mise,
Sir, – As a mother and teacher of young girls throughout Margaret Thatcher’s long term in office, I feel her greatest legacy was as an example to them that a woman could be a leader. – Yours, etc,
Athlone, Co Westmeath.
Sir, – The difficulty of trying to simplify complex characters has rarely been as apparent as in the reaction to Margaret Thatcher’s death. President Higgins, among many others in this country, praised her for signing the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985. Yet, in her memoirs she subsequently expressed the view that this was a mistake. Perhaps she was not the great pluralist some would have us believe.
John B Reid (April 9th) lauded her as a “‘real leader” for following her principles and not “merely bowing to fashionable and fleeting opinion”. Yet, despite this apparent disdain for frothy popularity, she managed to lead the Tories to three successive general election victories. It seems unlikely that she was entirely averse to the curious gaze of the electorate. – Yours, etc,
Blanchardstown, Dublin 15.
Sir, – With the passing of Margaret Thatcher, the world of politics and in general is a poorer place. Her place in history was long assured and while she divides opinion, no one could seriously deny her convictions and “country first” attitude. Her Bruges speech on the European Union has never been more relevant both in Ireland and across the continent.
Her government’s negotiations with the IRA, during the Hunger Strikes, led to the path of the Belfast Agreement – a point lost on some commentators. Ulster under the stewardship of Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan operated in a far tougher environment than her government.
She restored Britain from the sick man of Europe in 1979 to a world leader in a decade. It is interesting to note that her much-derided union laws have not been abolished by any prime minister since.
I feel the best comment on her legacy is from President Barack Obama, no stranger to discrimination himself, that Baroness Thatcher showed that women could break any glass ceiling. We shall see her like again. – Yours, etc,
Raheny, Dublin 5.
Sir, – This paper (Editorial, April 9th) seems to have followed countless others in its misunderstanding of Thatcher’s statement that “there is no such thing as society”. By this, Thatcher expressed her wish that ordinary people take some degree of responsibility for themselves and their communities and not to blame the intangible “society” for their woes. In the same interview in 1987, she went on to explain “There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first”. During these times of economic turmoil, Thatcher’s words have never before rung so true. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The Iron Lady has made the ultimate U-turn and gone to her just reward! – Yours, etc,
Merrion Court, Cork.
Sir, – You get a true measure of a human being when you watch how their natural behavioural traits come to the fore as they witness the death of another fellow human being. Regardless of what your personal opinion is, Baroness Thatcher was mother, wife and a sister and it is appalling to watch the reactions of certain so-called “people of influence”. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Margaret Thatcher presided over the final ghastly twitchings of British imperialism, and gloried publicly in it. What she will most be remembered for, however, in tandem with Ronald Reagan, will be the release upon the world of the Four Horsemen of privatisation, corporate greed, banking recklessness and light regulation that led in so many countries (including her own) to the present economic Apocalypse. Some legacy. – Yours, etc,
Clontarf, Dublin 3.
Sir, – The late Hugo Young’s acclaimed biography of Thatcher says of the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement: “It carried considerable advantages for the British, whether or not its impact on security, which was its strongest practical purpose, came to be noticeable. At small cost it gave London what is called ‘presentational cover’ around the world.”
Critics of Irish foreign policy during the dispute in the south Atlantic seem to have overlooked its strict adherence to Ireland’s constitutional affirmation of adherence to the principle of the pacific settlement of international arbitration or judicial determination. Ireland condemned the Argentinian re-seizure of the islands. When, while international efforts were being made to avoid bloodshed the British sank the General Belgrano with great loss of life, Ireland’s government, to the nation’s credit did not echo the “Gotcha” gloating of the British tabloids. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Your obituary of Margaret Thatcher (April 9th) states:“For Thatcher, Northern Ireland was ‘as British as Finchley’.” In research for my Master’s dissertation “Margaret Thatcher and Northern Ireland” (Queen’s University Belfast, 1993) I could find no evidence of Mrs Thatcher declaring “Northern Ireland is as British as Finchley ” and I traced the origins of this erroneous quote which has been widely attributed to her. In the House of Commons on November 10th, 1981, Mrs Thatcher was questioned by MPs about her recent summit meeting with taoiseach Garret FitzGerald and the following exchange took place.
“Mr Harold McCusker (Armagh): In view of the prime minister’s studied neutrality at her press conference on the matter of Irish unification, of which we have heard some echoes here today, can she repeat with the same sense of personal conviction as she did in Belfast three years ago that she still stands rock firm for the Union?
“The Prime Minister: I find it difficult to understand the precise point of the hon. gentleman’s question. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom – as much as my constituency is.”(Anglo-Irish Bilateral Talks, Hansard Vol 12, cols. 421-8). – Yours, etc,
MARTIN O’BRIEN MSSc,
Shrewsbury Drive, Belfast 9.
Sir, – From iron to ashes, the Lady’s not returning! – Yours, etc,
Iniscarragh, Ennis, Co Clare.