News24

Ireland 'suffered' under Thatcher

2013-04-08 19:07

Belfast - Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher caused "great suffering" in Ireland and her policies there ultimately failed, Irish republican leader Gerry Adams said on Monday.

Thatcher has long been a figure of hate for nationalists in Northern Ireland for her uncompromising policies during her 11 years in office between 1979 and 1990, which saw the death of 10 prisoners in a hunger strike.

Supporters say her hardline was inevitable after Irish Republican militants killed close Thatcher ally Airey Neave in a 1979 car bomb attack and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) came close to killing her in a bomb at the Conservative party conference in Brighton in 1984.

Adams, who acted as the public face of the IRA for much of its three-decade guerrilla war against British rule in Northern Ireland, said Thatcher's Irish policy failed miserably and delayed the achievement of peace in 1998.

"Her espousal of old draconian militaristic policies prolonged the war and caused great suffering," Adams said in a statement.

"She embraced censorship, collusion and the killing of citizens by covert operations... and refused to recognise the rights of citizens to vote for parties of their choice."

Thatcher is best remembered in Northern Ireland for her hardline during a hunger strike in 1981 in which 10 prisoners died.

The Republican prisoners won widespread sympathy among the province's Roman Catholic minority by fasting to support demands to be treated as political prisoners, and refused to wear prison clothing or do prison work.

But Thatcher insisted the jailed men were common criminals, not prisoners of war, saying "Crime is crime is crime".

Thatcher also introduced a broadcasting ban that forced British broadcasters to dub Gerry Adams voice.

In 1985 Thatcher signed the Anglo-Irish agreement, which for the first time gave the Republic of Ireland an advisory role over the governance of the province, angering pro-British unionists in the province.

Peace talks

The agreement paved the way for peace talks that led to the IRA's first ceasefire in 1994 and the 1998 Good Friday peace accord.

But critics say Thatcher's hard line against the IRA delayed progress.

"She didn't ever seem to be able to realise that when a government starts to act like a paramilitary organisation then the paramilitary organisation essentially wins," Seamus Mallon, a moderate Irish nationalist who served as Northern Ireland's deputy leader from 1998 to 2001, told Irish state broadcaster RTE.

Adams, speaking later to reporters in Belfast, said: "We respect the dead. We are a very forgiving people. I am giving you a political overview. Her Irish policy was total and absolute failure."

He indicated, however, that Thatcher played a role in opening up secret channels of communications with the IRA, but that it was not properly utilised until after she stepped down as prime minister.

"She opened up the back channels to republicanism. But failed to act on the logic of that action," he said.

Comments
  • regte.boer - 2013-04-08 19:12

    And so whines the ex-terrorist...

      Rocco DeWet - 2013-04-08 20:53

      Agreed. There are always 2 sides to a story and Thatcher's suggested missteps in the management of the Northern Ireland issue absolutely paled in comparison with the barbaric atrocities committed by the IRA. And I am an Afrikaner who have not forgotten the 24,000 innocent women and children that died in British concentration camps in the Boer war. Thatcher was perhaps the most effective democratically elected leader of the 20th century. The current economic meltdown in the Eurozone is the inevitable result of people running out of others people's money. There are people who need help, and there are parasites, and Thatcher was brave enough to differentiate.

  • salvador - 2013-04-08 19:20

    She wasn't moved by strikers. She wanted people to work and be productive. Too many individuals hide behind their unions and are willing to go to extremes for some utopia they have been promised. So sad.

  • veldt66 - 2013-04-08 19:20

    Adams is not & was never a terrorist, I hve Irish nationality & agree with the ideology of the Republican Movement.

      Ron Alain Heidtmann - 2013-04-08 19:38

      Having an Irish passport has nothing to do with it. You were never affected by her, so why bother commenting?

      Nigel Vos - 2013-04-08 19:45

      veld66 Adams was a leader of some of the most vicious terrorists in history – bombing innocent people, kneecapping, etc; the acts they performed were barbaric. He can cover himself with decency now – it does not alter what he is.

      Louis Pienaar - 2013-04-08 19:46

      Cool man, Afghanistan is waiting for you or maybe Syria or even Iraq, many innocent people are killed every day for some guy's "ideology"(always made to believe its every ones ideology).

      lacrimosewolf - 2013-04-08 19:59

      He along with the entire organisation were called upon to disarm many, many times. They always refused. As with the ANC, they were in their time, terrorists, determined to get their way through terrorising the world at large instead of negotiating. Ideologies are wondrous things. When they can only survive through never-ending death and destruction they become an irrational fanaticism

  • George Wood - 2013-04-08 19:57

    and the UK didn't suffer from the atrocities carried out by the murdering IRA terrorists! Back under your rock, where you belong Adams!!

  • tom.hudson3 - 2013-04-08 20:00

    Adams is a terrorist with the blood of many on his hands

      TinavoMagaisa - 2013-04-08 21:08

      One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter

  • Terence Pattison - 2013-04-08 20:01

    B.S.- Adams does not deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as Margaret Thatcher. He was, and probably is, a Terrorist. She a really Great Leader on who`s watch the "troubles" were sorted, albeit probably temporarily. Crawl back into the Bog where you came from I.R.A. scum.

  • Mike Jones - 2013-04-08 20:08

    Ireland declared it's independence from the UK in 1916 and was officially recognised as independent in 1922. What Thatcher has to do with Ireland escapes me. Could you be talking about Northern Ireland - perhaps?

  • Victor Dikgang Mabule - 2013-04-08 20:10

    She was also an apartheid goverment supporter and as result black people suffered in RSA during her 3 terms in office

      lacrimosewolf - 2013-04-08 20:42

      As did so many of the ANC cadres, all living in Britain with their families, funded by the British taxpayer getting housing, food and education. They learnt their lessons well and today, as 'returned exiles' they live a wonderful life whilst the people they professed to serve still struggle on with the worst education system in the world, the worst health-care in the world, still no housing, still no jobs and just a new bunch of people who openly steal your future every single day.

  • Stewart Croucamp - 2013-04-08 20:41

    Pennies don't fall from heaven, they are earned here on earth - Margaret Thatcher. Africans do not understand this concept neither do the Irish.

      TinavoMagaisa - 2013-04-08 21:10

      She was a war mongering prick. Supported The Khmer Rouge, Pinochet and apartheid.

      Fidel Chavista - 2013-04-09 04:59

      Spoken like a true capitalist, whose only kin is money!

  • TinavoMagaisa - 2013-04-08 21:14

    "Margaret Thatcher decimated mining communities in Wales, took away social benefits from her people and was a divisive leader," Bernard Ingham, her former Spin Doctor

  • Piet Boerie - 2013-04-09 05:21

    Hell just gained another soul. Her only interest was the rich who put her in power.

  • joe.mase.7 - 2013-04-09 07:57

    Absolutely, no loss... why did we have to wait this long?

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