WATCH: Phil Coulter explains why he declined an OBE from Margaret Thatcher
"Maggie Thatcher would not be my favourite politician."
Phil Coulter, the Derry composer, is deeply embedded in Irish culture as the composer of 'Ireland's Call' — an alternative to Amhrán na bhFiann, used by all-Ireland sports teams, including the Irish rugby team.
Coulter joined Ryan Tubridy on The Late Late Show last night, and told the story of the time he declined the offer of an Order of the British Empire from then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
"I had a letter from 10 Downing Street, from the office of Maggie Thatcher, saying that she was of a mind to recommend to Her Majesty that I should be given an OBE and she would like to have confirmation of the fact that I would accept it."
"Deep down in my heart's core, I thought 'This doesn't sit comfortably with me,'" Coulter said.
"Maggie Thatcher would not be my favourite politician. Given the way she had reacted throughout the hunger strikes. The way she had treated the miners during the miners' strike. For me, accepting an honour from this woman, it would be tantamount to me saying 'She's okay by me. I'm on her team.' And I wasn't.
"So I thought, my ego was in good enough shape, I don't need this OBE, so I politely declined."
The story was greeted by rapturous applause from the Late Late audience.
Phil Coulter on why he chose to decline an OBE. #LateLate pic.twitter.com/7YQFBcA0yT
— RTÉ One (@RTEOne) September 20, 2019
Coulter recounts the tale in full in his new memoirs, 'Bruised, Never Broken.'