Polemics & Exchanges

Iron Lady

Englishman Michael Stenton’s article “Margaret Thatcher” (Correspondence, June) never once mentions Thatcher’s hatred of the Irish, especially Catholics, which caused her to commit war crimes in Northern Ireland—crimes for which she should have been tried at The Hague.

These include gladly allowing ten IRA hunger strikers to starve themselves to death at Long Kesh prison when she could have easily prevented it; sending British SAS soldiers to Northern Ireland with orders to “shoot to kill”; and ordering the execution of Catholic lawyer Pat Finucane, whose only offense was defending suspected IRA members too well in court.  England has admitted her role in this execution but has refused to open a public inquiry because it would have led straight to Thatcher.

She also horrified her advisors in 1985 by proposing a “Cromwell solution” for Northern Ireland, whereby tens of thousands of Catholics would have been forcibly removed (ethnically cleansed) from Ulster to the south.  Finally, she told Lord Mandelson in 1999 that “you can’t trust the Irish, they are all liars,” and also said that she wanted to make Northern Ireland as “British as Finchley” (her home district).  Of course, Finchley didn’t have thousands of armed soldiers patrolling its streets.

No amount of revisionist history can ever change the fact that Margaret Thatcher committed atrocities against Irish Catholics in Northern Ireland for legitimately opposing and resisting England’s brutal occupation.

        —Ray Gordon
Venice, FL

Dr. Stenton Replies:

I do not think that any government is required to keep alive those who refuse food.  Of course, force-feeding may be preferred for political reasons.  But is it a legal obligation?  In any case, Mr. Gordon should not encourage “The Hague” to lay hands on anyone who—“gladly” or not—simply fails to prevent a suicide.  “The Hague” should be used with extreme care.  Courts and jurisdictions are proliferating over there in a most dangerous way.  Without taking learned advice I would not know which court and what sort of criminal law Mr. Gordon wants me to take seriously.

I did not know that Mrs. Thatcher had ever said she wanted to “ethnically cleanse” “tens of thousands” of Catholics.  If it is true, all I would venture to say is that she liked a drink.  The important thing is that she did no such thing.  Mind you, that might not help with The Hague.  Not committing certain crimes is only a very partial defense these days.

The killing of Pat Finucane was a bad business, and I hope Margaret Thatcher was not party to it.  But it is not the brutality or otherwise of the maintenance of the Act of Union that determines its value and legitimacy.  I pray for the permanent association of the four nations of the British Isles.  I have more reasons for this than I could explain here.  But I am not the only Englishman to hope that Finchley—Thatcher’s parliamentary constituency in London—might remain as British as loyalist Ulster.

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