Monday 23 January 2017

Saying goodbye to the gun has made us better neighbours

Gerard O'Regan

Published 26/03/2016 | 02:30

British prime minister David Cameron. Photo: AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert
British prime minister David Cameron. Photo: AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert

Margaret Thatcher at the height of her pomp and power, made no secret of the fact that she knew little about Ireland north or south; she was also pretty clear that on a personal basis she had little regard for Irish people in general.

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"You don't expect anything decent to come from an Irishman," she is reported to have once remarked in private, according to her biographer Charles Moore.

Moore has written a ruthlessly objective analysis of Thatcher despite being an unabashed admirer of her strong and purposeful ways. So when he says "she was only half in jest" when making such a comment, it's a signal for a kind of loathing she had for those on this side of the Irish Sea. He also recounts how in an effort to try and get some insight into what she perceived to be the foibles of those maddening Irish, she brought a history book with her when going on one of her infrequent holidays. However, there is no confirmation she managed to plough through all of the weighty tome - 'Ireland Since The Famine' by the late Trinity College Dublin historian FSL Lyons.

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