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Paris councillor wants street named after Margaret Thatcher

Reuters/Cathal McNaughton

Paris could soon have a rue Margaret Thatcher if a right-wing city councillor gets his way. But a Communist councillor hopes to stop him and honour Irish nationalist hunger striker Bobby Sands in the late British prime minister’s place.

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Jérôme Dubus, a councillor for the mainstream right-wing UMP, is to propose that the French capital name a square, street or avenue after Margaret Thatcher at the next city council meeting on 22-23 April.

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“Margaret Thatcher has become an international political personality of great standing,” Dubus told Le Figaro newspaper. “She took a country that was in ruins and put it back on the path to prosperity.”

Acknowledging that the former British prime minister is a controversial figure, Dubus pointed to “unanimity” among British politicians, pointing out that former Labour prime minister Tony Blair and current Labour leader Ed Miliband both paid tribute to her, as did French Socialist President François Hollande.

But Communist councillor Ian Brossart has hit back with a proposal that the honour should be given to Bobby Sands, an Irish republican who was elected to the British parliament while in the Maze prison and died after 66 days of a hunger strike for political prisoner status, a demand that Thatcher refused to concede.

Thatcher's policies were “the perfect example of what shouldn’t be done and of today’s failure of Europe”, he said.

“Bobby Sands is the symbol of resistance to Margaret Thatcher and the symbol of the struggle of peoples for self-determination,” he declared.

Dubus hit back with the accusation that Sands was a “terrorist”.

His idea stands more of a chance in Madrid, which, unlike Paris, is controlled by the right.

The city's arts, sport and tourism committee is to put the idea to a council meeting on 24 April.

Before Thatcher’s death, former ecology minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, who hopes to be UMP candidate for Paris mayor next year, expressed admiration for the Iron Lady.

She had found the Meryl Streep Thatcher biopic “poignant”, she told the British Daily Telegraph.

"I have much admiration for the person, the character, the incredible career path of this woman in a much tougher period than today," she said.

Thatcher’s death has reopened old political wounds in Britain with the BBC coming under pressure to ban plays of Ding-Dong the Witch is Dead from the Wizard of Oz film as it reaches number three in the charts.

On tour in Paris on Friday,Primal Scream lead singer Bobby Gillespie, the son of a Scottish trade unionist, told an interviewer he had been happy to hear of Thatcher’s death but declared that her policies had lived on in the policies of successive British governments.

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