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Dáil Statements on Resignation of British Prime Minister November 1990 April 8, 2013

Posted by Oireachtas Retort in Uncategorized.

Begins with a message to An Taoiseach

By the time you receive this message, you will probably already have heard this morning’s announcement from 10 Downing Street of my decision to make way for a successor, and to resign as Prime Minister as soon as the Parliamentary Party has completed the necessary procedures for electing a new leader. I shall of course remain in charge of the Government until my successor has been appointed.

I should like to thank you for the great co-operation and friendship which you have shown me during our time together in office, during which so much has been achieved, and I send you my warmest good wishes for the future. I know that my successor will continue to attach the highest importance to the relations between our countries.


I believe that our first meetings in 1980 commenced a process of placing relations between our two countries on a new plane which can lead to the establishment of a framework reflecting the totality of relationships within these islands.


The British Prime Minister, Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, is a politician of sincere convictions who worked with relentless energy to achieve those things in which she believed. […]
Mrs. Thatcher showed a remarkable willingness to learn and a willingness to act on what she had learned.

On behalf of the Fine Gael Party I wish Mrs. Thatcher well in her future work and I wish her successor all the best in their new and difficult role.

Spring, and wishful thinking

The retiring British Prime Minister, Mrs. Thatcher, will certainly be remembered as a leader of very considerable personal qualities of courage and determination. However, it is unlikely that Thatcherism will survive Mrs. Thatcher because the ideology she espoused divided the society she governed. It alienated thousands of her own people and, ultimately, failed to sustain the economic growth and development for which she aimed. The two-tier society she created in Britain should never serve [2406] as a model for any other society. As too many of her successes were built——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. TunneyZoom on James C. TunneyThere is a tradition in the House whereby the Chair deprecates any uncomplimentary reference to a foreign Head of State. The Deputy may adjudicate on it in whatever fashion he thinks fit.

Mr. Spring: Information on Dick SpringZoom on Dick SpringI will take your advice as I have always done in the past. My opinions may vary, in relation to the person’s achievements and accomplishments, from those of other people, but I am entitled to express them.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan HowlinZoom on Brendan HowlinIt would be interesting to have a discussion on Saddam Hussein.

Mr. Spring: Information on Dick SpringZoom on Dick SpringToo many of Mrs. Thatcher’s successes were built around cataclysmic events like the Falklands War and the miners’ strike rather than on any lasting contribution to the quality of life of ordinary Britons and, ultimately, the people are unlikely to miss her.

Where Ireland was concerned it must be said, to her credit, that she made an agreement — and was instrumental in making it — and she stuck with it and defended it. She never fully understood Ireland and was not in sympathy with the political imperatives surrounding Irish issues. She saw Ireland primarily as a security problem and the Anglo-Irish Agreement primarily as a vehicle for better security co-operation.

De Rossa

I do not consider it necessary or appropriate that Dáil Éireann should devote its time to discussing the resignation from office of a Prime Minister of another country in the circumstances in which this occurred, especially in view of the substantial body of business requiring our attention. Therefore, I do not propose to detain the House very long on this issue. Neither [2407] will I shed crocodile tears or join any phoney eulogies in relation to Mrs. Thatcher.

I welcome Mrs. Thatcher’s resignation and the reaction of most Irish people — and most British workers and their families — to her departure from Downing Street will be one of profound relief. The record of the successive Governments led by Mrs. Thatcher has been marked by a determination to foster the rich and to turn the screw on the poor. She has been representative of some of the worst traditions in British political life. We should not forget the manner in which she gloried in the blood of the Falklands War, her current drive for war in the Gulf and the viciousness she showed in her attempts to starve the British miners and their families into submission.

Mrs. Thatcher is receiving great praise in this country for her negotiation of the Anglo-Irish Agreement. It was a serious, although a flawed attempt to deal with the Northern Ireland problem and it cannot be ignored that it was largely unsuccessful. Sectarianism remains entrenched; the murderous campaign of the Provisional IRA continues to take its appalling toll; Northern Ireland continues to suffer from dreadful social and economic problems. In addition, Mrs. Thatcher’s arrogant manner and imperial style on more than one occasion offended and alienated people on both sides of the Border.

Thatcherism, it must also be said, had a significant impact on domestic Irish politics. The pernicious political philosophy she fostered has found many willing acolytes in this country who have enthusiastically followed the example of the soon to be departed Prime Minister. They cut and slashed our health, education and social services. I hope that we are witnessing not just the end of the political career of Mrs. Margaret Thatcher but the end of Thatcherism, although there would be many no doubt in the Tory Party who would willingly take up her mantle.

The best hope for the British people [2408] rests with the election of a Labour Government at the next British general election. It is not just in Eastern Europe that major changes are taking place, two great champions of the Cold War, Mr. Reagan and Mrs. Thatcher, have now departed the scene and moved on to a deserved retirement. With their departure I hope we can look forward to a new and more positive relationship between all nations in the world.

The current occupants of Dáil Éireann still have another week in hiding so we’re unlikely to see a repeat.

Interestingly the next item on the agenda in 1990 was the Destructive Insects and Pests (Amendment) Bill,

Lastly, Michael D during a Seanad Motion on Apartheid 1984

There is no doubt whatsoever that in terms of international affairs generally the situation has worsened because of the consequences of apartheid and the opposition to it, has worsened, more accurately, because of the foreign policies of Britain and the United States particularly under the regimes of Mrs. [1460] Thatcher and President Regan respectively. In December 1979 Mrs. Thatcher said “There is now real prospect that the conflicts of South Africa’s borders in Rhodesia and Namibia will shortly be ended.” She said: “This, combined with welcome initiatives in South Africa’s domestic policies, offer a chance to defuse a regional crisis which was potentially of the utmost gravity and to make progress towards the ending of the isolation of South Africa in world affairs.”

That view might be regarded as indicative of the naivety and ignorance which characterise Mrs. Thatcher’s views of the world generally or her over-simplification of the world which enables her to live with her particular version of “the world according to Margaret”. It is much more serious than that because it is undermining the position taken by the United Nations. I question the credibility of British foreign policy in the whole area of South Africa. I feel that both the United States and Britain under their present leaderships have undermined the credibility of the United Nations in relation to the condemnations of apartheid not only by their covert collusion with the economics of apartheid which sustained it but also because of their erosion of the principle and the letter of one United Nations resolution after another. It is very necessary for us to be clear and not to have a romantic notion that white South Africa will suddenly change its mind and its heart and be moved to accord rights to those whom it has excluded for some time.


I was interested to hear people speak about the violence that has been directed against the most recent victims. There again the challenge is to recognise what [1462] consequences flow from a racist state when the whole apparatus of the state, including its measures of control and repression, have been amplified with the assistance of the western world and when, in fact, armaments have been provided and, as I said, nuclear capacity has been provided. This causes us to consider — rather like the people at the end of the Second World War who were silent and who had to be moved by the opening of the camps — that we may be involved in a far more dangerous situation which may undermine the principles of foreign policy itself. We say something and yet live with another reality. South Africa has survived long after 100 United Nations resolutions have been passed. There has survived, for example, a covert and sinister collusion for a long time in the matter of investment capital from Great Britain, particularly in the service and financial sectors. We used to have the contradiction of political statements from the political masters in Great Britain and the economic statements from British companies. We are now in a more dangerous position with regard to the economic reality. The kind of people who are trucking with the monster that is the apartheid state are now beginning to influence the political statements. There has been little less than regression. It is important to place that on the record of the House.

The decision to collude with racism is one of the prime achievements of Mrs. Thatcher’s and President Regan’s administrations foreign policy. It has a very important dimension for both of them. They will be remembered for it and they should be remembered for it because they are the people who have brought it about. They have adjusted their political positions to suit economic breaches of one United Nations convention after another. In 1980 the European Economic Community accounted for 57 per cent of South Africa’s foreign liabilities and North and South America accounted for 24 per cent of their liabilities. I mentioned earlier that, for example, 62 per cent of the total assets of South Africa’s top 20 banks belong primarily to foreign banks. [1463] I mentioned the service sector. South Africa has survived and developed, and the gaps between black earnings and white earnings have all been made possible by the continued links which have been allowed to exist between the western world and the South African apartheid state. I mentioned the enormity, given a state that so systematically on the basis of colour excludes, denies participation, discriminates against the majority of its citizens, the enormity in moral terms of that state evolving to being a nuclear power on the basis of a barter of the means of death, in one case uranium, in the other case nuclear technology, between the western world and South Africa.

In conclusion, I would like to raise the question that has been correctly addressed by the Minister and by every speaker including those who moved this motion. In 1966 the United Nations General Assembly revoked South Africa’s mandate in Namibia, formerly South West Africa, and in 1971 the International Court of Justice ruled South Africa was under obligation to withdraw from Namibia immediately and that member states were under obligation to recognise the illegality of South Africa’s presence there. That was in 1971. The International Court of Justice — when Mrs. Kirkpatrick wants to mock it she calls it the United Nations Court of Justice — 14 years ago resolved as I have quoted. South Africa occupies Namibia with the support and connivance of the multinationals. In all of that there are tragic consequences but there is the mockery of international law and the mockery of all the international institutions that are involved.


1. WorldbyStorm - April 8, 2013

They’re interesting. Higgins had an interesting comment or two today.


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