DESPITE locking horns with former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for many years following the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the DUP and Ulster Unionists united at Craigavon Council meeting on Monday night to pay tribute her.
Mayor Carla Lockhart who said she had aspired to Baroness Thatcher’s ‘drive, charisma and energy’.
She said that while she did not agree with the Anglo-Irish Agreement which was signed in 1985, Mrs Thatcher was a mother and grandmother and her passing will be sad for her family.
Party colleague, Alderman Stephen Moutray said: “While you liked or loathed her she was a political giant.”
Having referred to the fact that she was a victim of the Brighton Bombing which was carried out by the IRA during a Conservative Party Conference in 1984, Councillor Moutray added that Mrs Thatcher was not from ‘landed gentry’ but a grocer’s daughter.
Ulster Unionist Councillor Ken Twyble concurred and said it was ‘significant’ that at one stage when she met Gorbachev she said he was a man she could do business with.
Sinn Fein’s Johnny McGibbon said from a nationalist perspective ‘Thatcher is viewed as someone who inflicted great pain and great torture in the community’.
“Things were not always rosy in the garden,” said Cllr McGibbon and said the conflict here was ‘prolonged’ as a result of Thatcher’s policies.
The DUP’s Sydney Anderson said she would rank as one of the great of politicians. “She faced many challenges,” said Alderman Anderson but added that she had ‘courage, conviction and drive’.
The DUP councillor said that Mrs Thatcher had ‘not rolled over to terrorism’. He said that many unionists felt that the Anglo-Irish Agreement was one of her greatest regrets.
He proposed that the Union flag fly at half mast on the day of Mrs Thatcher’s funeral.
Ulster Unionist Councillor Colin McCusker said: “I will never forget the Anglo-Irish Agreement and I will never forgive her for it.” However he seconded the proposal to fly the Union flag.
The motion to fly the flag was carried with nationalists voting against.