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Joan Burton has been compared to Margaret Thatcher

And not for the first time either.

Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Image: EMPICS Entertainment

JOAN BURTON HAD an interesting weekend.

On Friday evening, the Tánaiste was named Woman of the Year by Tatler magazine. Twenty-four hours later she was being compared to Margaret Thatcher.

It’s no surprise that the comparison came from a political opponent but not one the hard left as you might assume.

No, it was Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin in a speech at the Ógra Fianna Fáil National Youth Conference in Kildare on Saturday night.

In a predictably strong attack on the government, Martin said that the coalition of “spin and broken promises is running of time” having become torn between “the right-wing approach of Fine Gael and Labours desperation to find some trick to regain support”.

He said that the government is failing to empower youth and has made things worse by cutting the amount of money under 25s receive in social welfare.

Of Burton, he said: “Joan Burton is getting more like Margaret Thatcher every day. Even after Budget 2015 she has made cuts of €1.8 billion to social protection allowances since she became Minister.”

It’s not the first time that the first female leader of the Labour party has been compared to Thatcher, a Conservative who would be widely viewed as being at the opposite end of the political spectrum to Burton.

In July 2011, Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh said that Burton’s comments about young people on social welfare ”was like listening to Margaret Thatcher during the 1980s”.

While during the debate on the Budget last year, Socialist TD Joe Higgins hit out at the then-social protection minister.

“Today, far from being a Joan of Arc, this hapless Minister stands in the same gallery of political rogues as children’s milk snatcher, the late Margaret Thatcher, as she puts the bondholder before the pensioner and the banker and the financial market system before the youth of the country,” he told the Dáil

Burton would no doubt disagree and has herself criticised Thatcher in the past.

In a speech to the MacGill summer school two years ago, the Dublin West TD hit out at Thatcher’s infamous claim that there is no such thing as society.

“Margaret Thatcher notoriously claimed that there was no such thing as society, only individual men and women. Yet she went to war and demanded sacrifices from her fellow citizens to sustain that war in defence of a common purpose that had no direct connection to them as individuals but did arguably affect their common interest as a society,” she said.

VIDEO: What does Joan Burton think has been Labour’s biggest mistake in government?

Read: Joan Burton is Woman of the Year

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Hugh O'Connell

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