SINN Féin president Gerry Adams has said that Margaret Thatcher “did great hurt to the Irish and British people” following the death of the former Prime Minister this morning.
Baroness Thatcher passed away peacefully this morning at the age of 87 following a stroke.
Mr Adams said that she would be “especially remembered for her shameful role during the epic hunger strikes of 1980 and 81.”
In a statement he said:
“Margaret Thatcher did great hurt to the Irish and British people during her time as British Prime Minister.
“Working class communities were devastated in Britain because of her policies.
“Her role in international affairs was equally belligerent whether in support of the Chilean dictator Pinochet, her opposition to sanctions against apartheid South Africa; and her support for the Khmer Rouge.
“Here in Ireland her espousal of old draconian militaristic policies prolonged the war and caused great suffering. She embraced censorship, collusion and the killing of citizens by covert operations, including the targeting of solicitors like Pat Finucane, alongside more open military operations and refused to recognise the rights of citizens to vote for parties of their choice.
“Her failed efforts to criminalise the republican struggle and the political prisoners is part of her legacy.
“It should be noted that in complete contradiction of her public posturing, she authorised a back channel of communications with the Sinn Féin leadership but failed to act on the logic of this.
“Unfortunately she was faced with weak Irish governments who failed to oppose her securocrat agenda or to enlist international support in defence of citizens in the north.
“Margaret Thatcher will be especially remembered for her shameful role during the epic hunger strikes of 1980 and 81.
“Her Irish policy failed miserably.”
Image gallery: Margaret Thatcher and Ireland
Known as the “Iron Lady”, Baroness Thatcher had dominated British politics for two decades and was Britain’s only woman prime minister.
The former Conservative leader won three elections and governed from 1979 to 1990.
Her governance will be remembered for adopting a hard line against republicanism in Northern Ireland and crushing the unions.
In recent years her health had become frail and in 2002 she suffered several small strokes.
Following the death of her husband Denis in 2003 she had received medical advice to curtail any public speaking engagements.
Baroness Thatcher will receive a ceremonial funeral with military honours at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, Downing Street have confirmed.
Commenting on her death, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “It was with great sadness that I learned of Lady Thatcher’s death. We’ve lost a great leader, a great prime minister and a great Briton.”
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson added:
“She was undoubtedly one of the greatest political figures of post-war Britain and she changed the face of our United Kingdom forever.
“As our first female prime minister, she made history and as ‘The Iron Lady’ she was at the frontline of winning The Cold War as well as ensuring the freedom of the Falklands Islands.
“Whilst we disagreed over the Anglo-Irish Agreement, Mrs Thatcher was committed to the union and later described the Anglo-Irish Agreement as one of her greatest regrets.”
Taoiseach Enda Kenny described Mrs Thatcher as a “formidable political leader who had a significant impact on British, European and world politics”.
In a statement he said:
“I was saddened to learn of the death this morning of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
“Mrs Thatcher was a formidable political leader who had a significant impact on British, European and world politics. During her eleven years as Prime Minister, she defined an era in British public life.
“While her period of office came at a challenging time for British-Irish relations, when the violent conflict in Northern Ireland was at its peak, Mrs Thatcher signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement which laid the foundation for improved North-South cooperation and ultimately the Good Friday Agreement.
“I extend my deepest sympathies to her family and the Prime Minister David Cameron.”