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Inside File Dog days for Maggie T

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

Her favorite tea partner is being hunted by a Spanish inquisitor and Tony Blair’s rabble are out to demolish the House of Lords. Could matters become any worse for Margaret Thatcher?

Well, yes, they could if the 1997 tax returns filed with the IRS by the Margaret Thatcher Foundation are anything to go by. Total revenue at the Washington-based foundation for 1997 is listed in the filing as $398,000. That’s a whopping drop from the ’96 figure, which exceeded $1.6 million. Indeed, since it opened shop in 1993, the foundation has always managed to pull in well over a million bucks per annum, while the total for 1995 actually nudged over $2 million in "gifts, grants and contributions received."

But 1997 looks like being a bit of an anuus horribilis for Maggie’s bank balance. Only one group, the Washington, D.C.-based Center of Civil Society In Southeastern Europe, is listed in the ’97 filing as having received a grant. It was given $35,860. And in contrast to previous years, the ’97 filing listed big fat zeroes under the headings of compensations to officers, directors and other salaries and wages. Which begs the question. Is anybody going to answer the MTF’s front door should a citizen happen to be short taken in its vicinity?

Another sign that the blustery baroness might be closing up shop is the fact that the latest filing indicates a four-person board of directors, down from a previous total of 13. Maggie herself is one of them and is described as the "Directress." The president is Timothy Forbes, brother of Steve. The foundation’s list of "purposes and objectives" includes this line: "To promote the environment of values." On that basis, "IF" was thinking of applying for a few pennies from Maggie’s handbag before the loot runs out altogether.

And speaking of the handbag. "IF" was scanning the headlines in the California-published monthly paper Union Jack, an organ that trumpets itself as "America’s Only National British Newspaper." There was a story concerning Maggie’s handbag and the Thatcher Foundation in Britain’s effort to find a permanent home for one of the many she used over the years. Apparently the Imperial War Museum in London is one possible resting place. Beside a Churchill-puffed cigar perhaps. Certainly the handbag was used to good effect. Maggie, in her PM days, would pluck single sheets of paper from the particular bag on arm that would often have her formula for deciding an issue printed on it. And believe it or not, all this led to the Oxford dictionary including a new entry: "To handbag, transitive verb (of a woman politician), treat (a person, idea, etc.) ruthlessly or insensitively." So that’s what happened to poor Garret FitzGerald back in the days of "Out! Out! Out!"

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Storming Rudy’s Bastille

The Redcoats took another — at least symbolic — hammering in New York last week when a large crowd of rebellious patriots gathered at City Hall in Manhattan to mark the 200th anniversary of the 1798 Rebellion in Ireland. The reception was jointly hosted by Comptroller Alan Hevesi and New York State Senate Minority Leader Martin Connor, the most senior Irish-American legislator in Albany. The crowd didn’t need a Benedict Arnold to unlock the gates to the building, but given all the fortifications and security measures in these jittery times, there was concern before the bash over two 1798-vintage pikes brought over from Ireland for the occasion. The fear was that they would blow the fuses in the building’s edgy metal detectors.

Elections cometh fast

Never mind 1999. Politicians are already looking further ahead to the elections in November 2000. Doesn’t that date make you feel old? Anyway, word has it that Al Gore has already made contact with Americans for a New Irish Agenda with a view toward gathering as much Irish-American voter support for his presidential bid. Ted Kennedy, meanwhile, was set to hold a fund-raiser this week at the Metropolitan Club in Manhattan. Two hundred and fifty people, $1000 a head. Presumably the guests at this sort of bash will still have a little left over to buy Christmas prezzies.

Meanwhile, "IF" hears from the National Assembly of Irish American Republicans that it is already checking out pubs in Philadelphia to set up headquarters during the Republican National convention. Jaysus, politics is fierce tough. Apparently the National Assembly has a big banner ready to hang over the door of the chosen imbibing emporium. It reads: "Official Irish Republican Headquarters." Let’s hope there aren’t too many Provos in the neighborhood.

Backshish blues

Just because the cases against the deportees are in a kind of suspended animation does not mean that the particular Sword of Damocles hanging over the group has been permanently lifted. Anything but. With this in mind, a delegation comprising Bruce Morrison, Brian O’Dwyer and Frank Durkan sat down recently with top White House officials as part of the continued effort to ensure a normal life in the U.S. as soon as possible for the deportees and their families.

In certain parts of the world, this kind of problem could be quickly and easily settled by tried and tested methods such as, eh, bribery. Not so the virtuous United States of course. Here it is all by the letter of the law, above board and so forth. And thank God for that. Still, there are times when you really would like to see a situation like this resolved to everyone’s advantage on the lines of " ah go on, let the families stay and here’s a few camels for yerself." But, as we all know, try that sort of thing in oh-so-virtuous Washington and you’ll be immediately told to hump off.

They said

€ "Patrick McCabe is one of the modern Irish novelists who (along with Roddy Doyle, Dermot Healy, Colm Toibin and a dozen or so others) make you wonder why America gives so much press to their comparatively bloodless Brit cousins to the east."

From a Wall Street Journal Review of McCabe’s "Breakfast On Pluto."

€ "The film does nothing to advance the cause of modern filmmaking, cheerfully denies the existence of a modern Ireland and stumbles now and then in its search for new developments. Even when the action flags, though, ‘Waking Ned Devine’ provides a perfect showcase for glorious Irish actors to strut their stuff. This sweet, funny sleeper is a super waker-upper."

From a Wall Street Journal review.

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