by David Granville
FORMER NEW York mayor and US Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani recently came under fire from Irish-Americans after travelling to London to be presented with the 'Margaret Thatcher medal of freedom' - whatever that is - by the retired British prime minister.
Even in politically right-wing Irish-American circles, the Thatcher government's policy on Ireland, and in particular its handling of the 1981 hunger strikes, has ensured that the former British premier's is hated by people of Irish origin throughout the world.
Given the offence he has caused by accepting the Thatcher medal, Giuiliani is obviously convinced that he can fulfil his presidential ambitions without the support of Irish-America.
Then again, just maybe he surmised that if Tony Blair and Gordon Brown could get away with embracing Tory privatisation policies - and a lot more besides, the dangers for an out-and-out right-wing reactionary of receiving an award from Thatcher must surely be minimal.
Irish American Unity Conference president John Fogerty is one of those who clearly doesn't see it that way.
"Thatcher's Irish policy educated a generation of Irish American about the reality of British political malfeasance in Ireland," explained Fogerty.
Joe Jamison, president of the Irish-American Labor Coalition, a trade union committee is equally damning:
"Giuliani had a terrible anti-union and racist record as mayor of New York City. As New Yorkers know, his vaunted 'heroism' on 9/11 is a legend in his own mind. His advisers are the same sick neo-cons who got us into Iraq. Accepting an award from a monster like Thatcher simply adds insult to his many injuries. If Giuliani becomes the Republican candidate, the labour movement will work all the more enthusiastically to expose him for the reactionary fraud and bully that he is.""
Irish National Caucus president Fr Sean McManus insists that Giuliani's embrace of Thatcher will not be ignored by Irish-Americans.
"Why could he not tell them they had it wrong on Ireland and that their brutal measures were the best recruiting sergeant the IRA ever had?" suggested McManus.
Still, it's good to know that, unlike Gordon Brown, there are still those around who don't think that it's acceptable to cosy up the personification of political reaction that is Margaret Thatcher. What a pity more of their ilk can't be found in the Labour Party leadership.
Connolly Association, c/o RMT, Unity House, 39 Chalton Street, London, NW1 1JD
Copyright © 2007 David Granville