Ulster Protestant MPs Hit Thatcher Pact ‘Treachery’
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was denounced today in Parliament by Protestant lawmakers who called a historic agreement on Ulster that she signed with the Irish Republic treachery and “political prostitution.”
In contrast to congratulations from members of her Conservative Party for the accord she signed Friday with Irish Prime Minister Garret FitzGerald, Thatcher was subjected to some of the most passionate language the House of Commons has heard in recent times from its 15 Northern Ireland Protestant members.
The Rev. Ian Paisley, leader of the militant Democratic Unionist Party, called the accord “treachery and deceit.” His deputy, Peter Robinson, claimed that it was “betrayal and a political act of prostitution.” He said that in signing a pact with FitzGerald, Thatcher had “taken a viper to her breast.”
Harold McCusker of the larger and more moderate Official Unionist Party said: “I never knew what desolation felt like until I read this agreement. . . . I will carry to my grave with ignominy the sense of injustice.”
Thatcher stood firmly by the agreement and accused the Protestants of “deliberately trying to work up fear when you should be doing everything to allay fears.”
The accord gives Dublin a formal consultative role in the running of Northern Ireland for the first time since the island was partitioned 64 years ago. It also contains Irish recognition that the island cannot be united unless the majority, currently Protestant by a 2-1 margin and strongly anti-Dublin, so wishes.
The Irish Dail (Parliament) is to begin debating the agreement Tuesday, with a vote expected Thursday. FitzGerald is expected to have no trouble mustering a majority.
Thatcher’s large majority is certain to approve it when it is debated in the House of Commons, probably next week.