April 11, 2013 / 11:05 AM / 5 years ago

Rue Margaret Thatcher in Paris? Pourquoi pas, some ask

PARIS (Reuters) - Right in the heart of Paris, sandwiched between the Champs-Elysees and the River Seine, sits Avenue Winston Churchill.

So why not a Rue Margaret Thatcher, some French politicians are asking.

A conservative city councilor, Jerome Dubus, will propose that the French capital pay homage to Britain’s outspoken former prime minister by naming a street after her at the next council meeting this month. Thatcher died on April 8.

But in a country where centuries-long tensions with its neighbor across the Channel linger - the avenue commemorating Britain’s role in World War Two notwithstanding - the idea is not without its critics.

The president of the council’s communist and far-left party, Ian Brossat, countered with a proposal to rename a square or street for Bobby Sands, the IRA prisoner who died in a 1981 hunger strike in protest over British rule in Northern Island to which Thatcher refused to yield.

“Lacking any personality and a leader, the UMP (conservative party) is looking for its good fairy in the past, and across the Channel,” Brossat wrote in a short statement.

The Paris suburb of St. Denis already has a short street named for Sands in a cluster of streets named for former Socialist and Communist politicians, members of the French Resistance and poets. Avenue du President Wilson, in honor of the United States’ World War One-era President Woodrow Wilson, is not far away.

Thatcher’s death has divided public opinion in Britain, where opponents of her free-market ideology have spoken against the blunt politician dubbed the ”Iron Lady.

In London, government ministers have proposed erecting a statue of Thatcher in city landmark Trafalgar Square, whose central column honors the 1805 naval victory of Lord Nelson ... over France.

Editing by Mark John and Sonya Hepinstall

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