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Full Report: Easington miners celebrate Thatcher's funeral

Flags were flying at half mast across the country today - but the councils in Newcastle, Gateshead, Durham and York did not lower their flags for the funeral of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

In Easington, ex-miners celebrated - to mark the 20th anniversary of the closure of Easington Colliery - and the death of the woman they say led to its decline.

Watch the full report below.


Miners' event was "100% celebration" of Thatcher's death

Miners outside an event held in Easington in County Durham said they are celebrating the death of Margaret Thatcher. An event was planned on this day even before the death of the former Prime Minister, marking 20 years since the pit closed.

However, one man who was arriving at the event said it was now "100% celebration for Thatcher."

He added: "Thatcher treated us with bad taste, closed all our mines, decimated our villages, and stopped our youth getting jobs."

Miners display "Thatcher's Prayer" banner on day of her funeral

Members of the Durham Miners' Association put up a banner displaying a "Thatcher's Prayer" in protest over the way her policies affected mining communities in the North East.

Miners unveil the banner in Easington Colliery Credit: ITV

The poem is a parody of the speech Margaret Thatcher famously gave on the steps of Downing Street after her election as Prime Minister in 1979 - which quoted St Francis of Assisi.

The miners' version reads:

"Where there are pits, may we bring destruction,

"Where there are communities, may we bring strife,

Where there is work, may we bring unemployment,

"Where there is hope, may we bring despair."

The Durham Miners' Association held an event on the day of the funeral to mark 30 years since the colliery closed Credit: ITV


Miners set to party on day of Thatcher's funeral

Ex-miners will next week mark the 20 years since their pit closed, with a party in Easington in County Durham - on the day of Baroness Thatcher's funeral.

Alan Cummings, chairman of the Durham Miners' Association, said the timing of events was "remarkable" and "one of those quirks", though he added:

"She couldn't be cremated on a better day."

– Alan Cummings, chairman of the Durham Miners' Association

The party will be held on Wednesday at the Easington Colliery Club, in the former pit village, subject to the committee's approval, he said.

On Tuesday evening there will be another party for the women's groups who supported the striking miners, he said.

"We are planning to have a colliery band and we are inviting ex-miners and their families to go back over their memories of the strike and what has happened since the closure of the pit."

– Alan Cummings, chairman of the Durham Miners' Association

The pit in Easington Colliery, which was the setting for the film Billy Elliott, closed in 1993, with the loss of 1400 jobs and it is one of the most deprived parts of the country.

Mr Cummings, an ex-NUM Lodge secretary, said the event was not in poor taste and he had only received positive feedback.

"I couldn't stand her.

"She had a very patronising manner and I could have put my foot through the television whenever I saw her on there.

"We opposed and hated everything she did. She has wrecked thousands and thousands of lives so, no, it's not in poor taste.

"We can understand why people are happy and rejoicing that she has gone because they remember these communities have never recovered."

– Alan Cummings, chairman of the Durham Miners' Association

MP explains trip to Venezuela

The Labour MP for Easington, Graeme Morris, has explained to the Commons why he made an all-expenses paid trip to Venezuela.

Graeme Morris was one of a number of MPs criticised by a national newspaper over foreign trips.

He said he apologised if he had misled the House, but that he had been open about - and written about - the study trip to Venezuela, and had put a question about the country's elections to the Foreign Secretary William Hague.

The Deputy Speaker Nigel Morris said no Commons rules had been broken.

Boy critical in hospital after colliding with a car in Easington Lane

The Great North Air Ambulance arrives on the scene Credit: ITV News

An 11-year-old boy was airlifted to hospital after colliding with a car while on a bike.

A doctor and a paramedic were flown to the scene where the boy was treated for serious head injuries.

He was airlifted to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, where his condition on arrival was critical.

A 49-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident.

  1. Gerry Foley, Westminster

Warning over more privatisation

The Easington MP Grahame Morris has called on ministers to stop the outsourcing of public services to private operators. Mr Morris, who previously worked in the NHS, claimed the acceleration in outsourcing deals would open the way to fragmented public services and the end of universal access.

He also said there was an agenda to force through regional pay deals.

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