Thatcher’s Congressional medal blocked

A group of Irish-American politicians has blocked the US Congress from awarding a congressional medal to former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

Illinois Republican congressman Mark Kirk admitted earlier this month that plans to award Mrs Thatcher the Congressional Medal of Honour had to be abandoned after Massachusetts Democratic congressman Barney Frank said he would do everything he could to stop it because of the Irish community’s “very legitimate and strong” reaction to Mrs Thatcher.

He was joined by a group of congressmen from Irish districts, including Joe Crowley of New York, who said that it would be “just plain wrong” to give Congress’s highest award to Mrs Thatcher on the 25th anniversary of the IRA hunger strikes.

“Many people in the British government who came after her did great work to end the conflict, but she certainly didn’t,” he said.

Mr Frank said there was “absolutely no way” that Republicans could obtain the required two-thirds vote required to allow Congress to give Mrs Thatcher the medal of honour, also known as the congressional gold medal.

Mr Frank is the most senior Democrat on the Financial Services Committee, which makes a final approval on congressional medal of honour candidates after they are nominated by two-thirds of the members of Congress.

“I told the Republican members that I would use the full time allotted to debate the medal and that I would call a full roll-call before the vote would be allowed to go through. I don’t think anyone had the stomach for it, so they’ve dropped it,” he said.

Mr Frank said that he also opposed Mrs Thatcher’s stand on gay issues when she was in power.

“I don’t think we should be giving out medals to people just because they were friends of Ronald Reagan,” he said.

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