Thatcher: “I need that money for my people”…

Garrett FitzGerald is telling tales from school (subs needed). This one points up a profound challenge facing unionism in the years to come, ie how make the Union work in real human terms. It is well worth repeating:

So, after signing the agreement with me on November 15th, 1985, when we went upstairs in Hillsborough Castle to celebrate our achievement with a glass of champagne, Thatcher reacted negatively to a reference I made to an arrangement by which our two permanent representatives to the EU were to propose to their colleagues that their states each make a substantial national contribution to a Northern Ireland peace fund, outside the framework of the EU budget.

I had personally secured the agreement of almost all other heads of government to this proposal. The instant reaction demonstrated how little unionist sentiment she shared: “What! More money for these people? Look at their roads! Look at their schools! I need that money for my people!”

The approach in Brussels was instantly cancelled, and Northern Ireland lost what might have been several hundred million pounds in aid.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty