Thatcher and the road to the Good Friday Agreement
by John McAnulty
The 15th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement coincidentally coincided with the death of Margaret Thatcher. Given the recent flag riots, the confirmation of Orange supremacy in the streets and the new pan-unionist unity behind Robinson, the complaints of “lack of engagement” from Sinn Fein and watery threats by the British to withhold funds if the local administration does not move beyond sectarian patronage, it is not surprising if there is public discontent.
That discontent is buffered by a deep confusion. People are repelled by the actuality of the settlement, yet remain convicted that there is a hidden progressive core that will someday express itself.
A similar confusion hangs around the role of Thatcher. Many nationalists believe there were two Thatchers – a bad Thatcher who oppressed the hunger strikers and a good Thatcher who signed the Anglo Irish deal and laid the grounds for the peace process.
If we can dispel the confusion about Thatcher’s role we may be able to dispel the broader confusion.
As with all the elements of Thatcherism, the policy on Ireland was in fact a continuation of existing British policy. Direct military force backed by various forms of internment, torture and the use of Loyalist death squads was used first to
Posted on April 22, 2013, in 1981 hunger strike, British state repression (general), Civil rights movement, Democratic rights - general, Irish politics today, Partition, Political education and theory, Provos - then and now, Repression and resistance in 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, Unionism, loyalism, sectarianism. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.