IRISH President Michael D Higgins has said that Margaret Thatcher will be remembered as “one of the most conviction-driven British Prime Ministers”.
In a statement, the President noted that her policies in regard to Northern Ireland “gave rise to considerable debate at the time” but added that her role in the Anglo-Irish Agreement “will be recalled as a valuable early contribution to the search for peace and political stability.”
The President is among a number of Irish political figures – in both Britain and Ireland – that have commented in the wake of Baroness Thatcher’s death on Monday.
SDLP Leader Dr. Alasdair McDonnell noted that Thatcher’s “politics and approach left her a hostile figure within nationalism,” while Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said “her legacy is now for the historians”.
Lord Paddy Ashdown, Honorary Vice-President of Irish Liberal Democrats and former Liberal Democrat Leader, said that although he “opposed almost everything” she did, “If politics is the ability to have views, hold to them and drive them through to success, she was undoubtedly the greatest prime minister of our age, and maybe even the greatest politician.”
Comment below from key Irish figures:
Statement from Áras an Uachtaráin – Margaret Thatcher
“I am sorry to learn of the death of Lady Thatcher. To have been Great Britain’s first female Prime Minister means that Margaret Thatcher’s place in history is secure.
“She will be remembered as one of the most conviction-driven British Prime Ministers who drew on a scholarship that demanded markets without regulation. The policies of Mrs Thatcher’s Government in regard to Northern Ireland gave rise to considerable debate at the time.
“However, her key role in signing the Anglo-Irish Agreement will be recalled as a valuable early contribution to the search for peace and political stability.
“Lady Thatcher’s political career, its impact and legacy will be discussed and debated for many years. What is undeniable is that the strength of conviction in her beliefs was acknowledged by those who robustly opposed her, as well as by those who enthusiastically supported her.
“I extend my condolences to Lady Thatcher’s family, her friends and political colleagues.”
Statement from Feargal Dalton, Scottish National Party councillor for Glasgow’s Partick West ward.
“Thatcher has been a big influence in my life and she generates such strong and deep seated feelings in me, to the point where I wouldn’t know where to start.
“I don’t glory in the death of others and her death hasn’t changed anything for me. My personal battle against the continuing manifestations of her ideology in both Scotland and Ireland continues.”
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore T.D:
“Baroness Thatcher was a hugely influential figure in British and global politics. Always controversial, her legacy is now for the historians.
“Today, I wish to extend my sympathies to her family and friends.”
Commenting on the death of Baroness Thatcher, SDLP Leader Dr. Alasdair McDonnell said:
“Margaret Thatcher was a controversial and divisive figure in the political landscape on our shores. Her politics and approach left her a hostile figure within nationalism.
“The SDLP disagreed fundamentally with Baroness Thatcher’s politics and approach to the north and my colleagues clashed many times with her.
“However, with significant assistance from America, she helped deliver the Anglo Irish Agreement which set the scene for the Good Friday Agreement and the much improved circumstances we find ourselves in today.
“Baroness Thatcher made history. Opinion on that history will divide. Recognition however must be given to the fact that she was the first female British Prime Minister at a time when that was largely inconceivable.
“As well as a politician, Baroness Thatcher was a mother. I extend my condolences and sympathies to her children and wider family”.
Jennie McShannon Federation of Irish Societies.
“Margaret Thatcher is as renowned for her achievement as being the first female Prime Minister and the longest serving since the early 19th century, as much as she is for her controversial policies both domestically and globally.”
Lord Paddy Ashdown, Honorary Vice-President of Irish Liberal Democrats and former Liberal Democrat Leader:
“I opposed almost everything she did. Though there will be many who saw her as the author of much destruction that we still mourn, much that she pulled down needed to be pulled down.
“She was better as destroyer of old tired institutions and lazy ways of thinking than she was as the builder of new ones; better at defining divisions than building cohesion. But probably that’s what Britain needed then.
“The pre-eminent attribute in politics is courage; the moral courage to hold to the things you believe in. And this, like her or loathe her, she had in abundance.
“Personally charming to all except those in her cabinet; fearless when taking on her enemies, even to the extent of making up some of her own; utterly implacable in her patriotism, albeit of a kind that didn’t always serve the country’s long-term interests.
“She won great victories for what she stood for at home and huge respect for our country abroad. If politics is the ability to have views, hold to them and drive them through to success, she was undoubtedly the greatest prime minister of our age, and maybe even the greatest politician.”