THE announcement of the death of the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on April 8 immediately brought to mind all of those who were victims of her policies and unrelenting right-wing ideology. It affects us here in Ireland as well but around the world both directly and indirectly by her unstinting support for fascist regimes such as that of Augusto Pinochet in Chile.
In Ireland we of course think at once of the 1981 hunger strikes and the
stonehearted response of Thatcher’s government to any appeal to a common
humanity. The Patron of Republican Sinn Féin Ruairí Ó Brádaigh says that one of
his abiding memories of the 1981 election campaign in support of the prisoner
candidates is that at the very mention of the name Bobby Sands people would
raise their heads whereas when Margaret Thatcher’s name was uttered people’s
heads would drop.
Speaking on RTÉ radio’s News At One programme on April 8 the former
deputy-leader of the SDLP Séamus Mallon stated that Thatcher viewed the
26-County State as merely a colony of Britain. Under Thatcher a vicious war of
terror was waged on the nationalist people of the Six Counties, which included
a stepping up of the collusion between British State forces and loyalist death
squads. Human rights lawyers such as Pat Finucane, assassinated by a
British-backed loyalist death squad in 1988, became prime targets of a British
State determined to crush all opposition to its hold on Ireland.
To understand Thatcher you must grasp that she was an unreconstructed
colonialist who could not imagine the sun ever setting on a fast-diminishing British
world dominance. Her imperialist adventure to wrest Las Malvinas back from
Argentina in 1982 seemed more like something from 1882 but was very much part
of the image she wished to cultivate. Cloaking herself in jingoism and
intolerance she was prepared to murder over 323 young Argentinean sailors on
the Belgrano in order to bolster her grip on power in Britain.
Within her own State she had no scruples about waging war on entire communities
and almost the entire trade union movement, openly declaring that the miners
were “the enemy within”. The scars of the social upheaval caused by Thatcherism
are all too evident in the Britain of 2013. As one commentator noted she was
prepared to sacrifice two-thirds of her people in order to satisfy one-third.
Her legacy was one of polarisation and increased inequality.
From an Irish perspective she epitomised a British political establishment that
had failed to learn from its experience by continuing to implement the same
polices of coercion and oppression in response to the Irish people’s demand for
national freedom. Sadly her successors seem as blinkered in their approach to
Ireland. The continued repression directed against Irish Republicans simply
prolongs the conflict while internationally Thatcher’s faith in an unregulated
market helped sow the seeds of the present world economic collapse with its
dire consequences for working people throughout Europe and around the world.
So on this day we do not mourn her passing but here in Ireland we proudly remember
those who died in defiance of her attacks on freedom and democracy.
Source: Republican Sinn Fein 10-04-2013