THERE has been a mixed political reaction in Northern Ireland to the death of former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher.
The 87-year-old one-time Conservative Party leader died on Monday morning following a stroke.
The former Prime Minister had been in declining health in recent years.
She was Primer Minister from 1979 to 1990 and was the first woman to take the helm at No 10 Downing Street.
The green grocer’s daughter from Finchley made Northern Ireland one of her top priorities when she came into power.
She increased security force operations in the province to tackle the threat from the Provisional IRA.
But the Provisional IRA tried to wreak revenge on her for her Northern Ireland policies.
In 1984, a bomb went off in the Grand Hotel in Brighton on the eve of the party conference causing massive devastation.
Five people were killed and 31 injured when the bomb went off in room 629 where IRA bomber Patrick Magee was staying under the alias of Roy Walsh the previous month.
The Frangex bomb was detonated using the components of a video recorder.
The plan had been to kill her Cabinet but all cheated death in the blast.
At home, she also took on the trade unions who she believed were crippling Britain’s economic fortunes.
And abroad, she went to war with the Argentinians, sending a fleet of ships to save the Falkland Islands.
First Minister Peter Robinson said he had learned of the death of Baroness Thatcher with “great sadness” and described her as a “transformative and powerful prime minister”.
“She was undoubtedly one of the greatest political figures of post-war Britain and she changed the face of our United Kingdom forever,” he said.
“As our first female prime minister, she made history and as ‘The Iron Lady’ she was at the frontline of winning The Cold War as well as ensuring the freedom of the Falklands Islands.
“Whilst we disagreed over the Anglo-Irish Agreement, Mrs Thatcher was committed to the union and later described the Anglo-Irish Agreement as one of her greatest regrets.”
Mr Robinson said the passing of Baroness Thatcher “draws to an end a remarkable life devoted to the service of the United Kingdom”.
“She was one of a kind: tough, possessed of a supreme intellect and driven by conviction,” he added.
“The entire country is indebted to her for all that she achieved.
“I know that her accomplishments will not soon be forgotten by a grateful nation.”
The SDLP MP Mark Durkan said Baroness Thatcher had made a “controversial impact” on political life and “divided opinion”.
Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt MLA said Northern Ireland was “eternally grateful” for her stance on terrorism.
“Baroness Thatcher was a colossus of conviction politics, said Mr Nesbitt in a statement.
Whilst we in the Ulster Unionist Party would not have agreed with her on everything, particularly the Anglo Irish Agreement, Northern Ireland has reason to be eternally grateful for her stance against terrorism, not least during the hunger-strikes when Northern Ireland was on the edge of something catastrophic.
“Whatever you thought of her as a politician she was a remarkable public servant who stood by her beliefs and courageously fought against the odds on the National, European and World stage,” he added.
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said she had caused “great hurt to the Irish and British people” during her time as Prime Minister.
“Working class communities were devastated in Britain because of her policies,” he said.