Politics

Thursday 10 July 2014

Iron Lady spurned chance to meet with Spring

Diplomacy

Shane Hickey and Michael Brennan

Published 03/01/2014|02:30

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Dick Spring
Dick Spring

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher snubbed a request by Tanaiste Dick Spring for a meeting because she had "nothing to say to him".

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At the time, Mr Spring was deputy leader of the country in the run-up to the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the leader of the Labour Party and the minister for energy.

But none of that brought him even close to a meeting with the formidable Ms Thatcher when he sought one.

Mr Spring told the Irish Independent that Ms Thatcher's decision to turn him down showed she had "little or no interest in Irish affairs".

He had been travelling to London in 1984 to meet with the leader of the Labour Party there, Neil Kinnock, when he put in a request to see the prime minister.

A handwritten note from Ms Thatcher, released yesterday by the UK state archives, shows she dismissed the idea.

"I have nothing to say to him. I shall be seeing Dr [Garret] Fitzgerald at Fontainebleau [in France]. I doubt the wisdom of seeing Mr Spring," she wrote in her distinctive handwriting.

Mr Spring said that Mr FitzGerald's forceful conversations with Ms Thatcher at every opportunity were probably as much discussion on Northern Ireland as she could tolerate.

Irish Independent

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