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hunger strikes

Phil Coulter says he declined OBE because he didn't like Margaret Thatcher

The songwriter disagreed with how Thatcher treated hunger strikers and miners in the 1980s.

PHIL COULTER HAS said he turned down the offer to receive an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1990.

The 77-year-old songwriter and musician received a letter from the office of Margaret Thatcher, who was then Prime Minister, in November 1990. It informed him that Thatcher wanted to recommended that Queen Elizabeth II present him with an OBE.

Speaking on last night’s Late Late Show, Coulter said: “I got a letter from 10 Downing Street, from the office of Maggie Thatcher, saying that she was of the mind to recommend to her majesty that I was to be given an OBE, and she would like to have confirmation of the fact that I would accept it.

“There was one part of my ego that was flattered to have been offered an honour, but deep down in my heart’s core I thought this doesn’t sit comfortably with me.

Given my background, given the fact that right then Maggie Thatcher would not be my favourite politician, given the way she had reacted through the hunger strikes, the way she had treated the miners during the miners’ strike, I thought for me to accept an honour from this woman somehow would be tantamount to me saying, ‘Well, she’s okay by me, I’m on her team’, and I wasn’t.

“So I thought, you know what? My ego is in good enough shape, I don’t need this OBE so I politely declined.”

OBEs are presented to people for their contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable organisations, and public service.

Coulter, who is from Derry, has won five Ivor Novello Awards and written several hits including the UK’s winning Eurovision entry in 1967, Puppet on a String.

One of Coulter’s most popular songs, The Town I Loved So Well, is about impact of The Troubles in Derry.

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