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Thatcher, Bobby Sands lose out in Paris street battle

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Margaret Thatcher and Bobby Sands fought an epic battle three decades ago that left the Irish hunger-striker dead, but in their latest -- posthumous -- fight, neither side came out victorious when the city of Paris on Monday rejected plans to name streets after them.

An exasperated deputy mayor of the French capital, Pierre Schapira, threw out a bid by far-left councillors for a Rue Bobby Sands as well as the call by the right-wing UMP party to have a street named after the British ex-premier who died this month.

He called on councillors to stop "using the dead for political ends".

"Every month there's something new. The last time it was the pope, and then (the late Venezuelan leader Hugo) Chavez," said Schapira, a socialist.

But he had harsh words for Thatcher.

"Bobby Sands died from a hunger strike that he made to denounce his imprisonment in the terrible conditions that Irish detainees faced, in which torture was regularly carried out by the British police. It was a hunger strike that Mrs Thatcher did not wish to bring to an end," he told a Paris council meeting.

Several French cities already have a street named after the Irish Republican Army member who died in prison in Northern Ireland aged 27 in 1981 after a 66-day hunger strike. He was at the time serving a 14-year sentence for possessing a handgun.

Sands was the first of 10 IRA prisoners who died on hunger strike that year over Thatcher's refusal to grant political status to republican detainees.

Sands was elected as a member of the British parliament during his hunger strike.

Thatcher survived a 1984 bomb assassination attempt by the IRA, which fought for British-ruled Northern Ireland to be reunited with the Irish Republic.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130422/thatcher-bobby-sands-lose-out-paris-street-battle