John McDonagh, co-host of the dissident New York-based Saturday talkshow Radio Free Eireann, noticed that a carnival-like atmosphere erupted among hardline Republicans after news of Thatcher’s passing. So many called celebrating that a party marking her passing is planned for Saturday in Brooklyn.
“From the moment her death was announced on Monday morning my phone has been ringing off the hook. I’m receiving multiple texts and emails and they’re all asking one thing: where will the party be held?” McDonagh said.
McDonagh’s Radio Free Eireann website has had a Thatcher deathwatch clock posted for five years.
“You know we almost gave up, because we thought she was like Kissinger and would never die. We thought she had made a pact with the devil and would be preserved forever,” he said.
Responding to the deluge of requests, McDonagh announced what he calls an Irish wake “to celebrate the end of Thatcher’s life” at Rocky Sullivan’s in Red Hook, Brooklyn on Saturday, April 13, from 3-6 p.m.
“I’ve just come off the phone with musician and publican Chris Byrne and we’re coming up with a program for a couple of hours to reminisce about the horror of her life and legacy,” McDonagh says. He’s expecting a packed house“If you look at the Internet and you see what’s happening on the Falls Road in Belfast and in Derry and in Britain too, parties are erupting. Streets are being blocked and champagne is being corked. You don’t get that when a beloved leader has passed,” McDonagh told the Irish Voice.
Irish Americans in New York in particular felt her policies, McDonagh claimed.
“At one stage, I recall, she tried to stop the NYPD Emerald Pipe Band from marching at a rally for the hunger strikers in Bundoran in Donegal. She contacted Ronald Reagan to put a stop to it,” he said.
Thatcher also banned activist lawyer Martin Galvin from Irish Northern Aid from speaking in the six counties in the 1980s, McDonagh said.
“I was over there for that rally where the IRA snuck him in to Belfast and during it plastic bullets were shot at us. Sean Downes was shot dead during the internment commemoration rally in 1984,” McDonagh recalls.
“Father Maurice Burke from Staten Island gave him last rights at the scene. So there was a real connection between her polices in Northern Ireland and Irish America.”
On another occasion, McDonagh and fellow activist Brian Moore rented a billboard in Times Square in support of IRA prisoners in England, Ireland and America. Thatcher responded by bluntly questioning the American ambassador to Britain to find out who had erected it and why it had been permitted..
After Margaret Thatcher, 87, credited as the most divisive British leader in modern times, passed away on Monday morning many Irish Americans rejoiced.
But even in death her conflict-ridden legacy was still on full public view as street parties featuring champagne and cake erupted in parts of the U.K. and in Nationalist areas of the North on Monday evening.
To the majority of Irish American leaders, Thatcher’s utter intransigence over her 11 years as prime minister of Britain prolonged the war in the North, even as her policies tore her own society apart.
From the day she took office, critics contend, Thatcher waged an endless war on Irish Republicans. It’s a legacy that still rankles even two and half decades after it abruptly came to an end.
Long Island Congressman Peter King, who has been heavily involved in Irish Republican politics in the North since the 1970s, told the Irish Voice on Tuesday, “I have to compartmentalize my response to her legacy. I think she did an outstanding job with her overall foreign policy in regard to the Soviet Union for example, but I strongly disagreed with her policies in Northern Ireland. She had a blind spot there.”
By way of analogy, King cites Winston Churchill, who was a great British leader in World War II but who had a blind spot when it came to India.