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.