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President Higgins: Thatcher's legacy will be debated for many years

The President said he was “sorry to learn of the death of Lady Thatcher” and extended his condolences to her family.

Image: PA/PA Wire/Press Association Images

IRELAND’S PRESIDENT HAS extended his condolences to the family, friends and political colleagues of Margaret Thatcher on the occasion of her death.

In an evenly-worded statement, Michael D Higgins said the Conservative leader secured her place in history for being the first female Prime Minister of Great Britain.

He said she will be remembered as one of the most conviction-driven leaders “who drew on a scholarship that demanded markets without regulation”.

Her legacy and impact will be debated for many years to come, as will her policies in relation to Northern Ireland, added Higgins.

However, he did acknowledge her role in signing the Anglo-Irish agreement, recalling it as a “valuable early contribution” to the peace process.

During his time as a Labour politician, Michael D Higgins stood in staunch opposition to the policies of the Thatcher government. In his last Dáil speech, he referenced her “mad view” that there is “no such thing as society”.

Here is today’s statement, in full:

I am sorry to learn of the death of Lady Thatcher.To have been Great Britain’s first female Prime Minister means that Margaret Thatcher’s place in history is secure.

She will be remembered as one of the most conviction-driven British Prime Ministers who drew on a scholarship that demanded markets without regulation.

The policies of Mrs Thatcher’s Government in regard to Northern Ireland gave rise to considerable debate at the time. However, her key role in signing the Anglo-Irish Agreement will be recalled as a valuable early contribution to the search for peace and political stability.

Lady Thatcher’s political career, its impact and legacy will be discussed and debated for many years. What is undeniable is that the strength of conviction in her beliefs was acknowledged by those who robustly opposed her, as well as by those who enthusiastically supported her.

I extend my condolences to Lady Thatcher’s family, her friends and political colleagues.

READ: Gerry Adams has harsh words for Margaret Thatcher

In pics: Margaret Thatcher and Ireland>

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