Mowlam bows out
The decision by Mo Mowlam to announce her retirement from
politics was hardly a surprise. In the last week, the rumour mill
had started to crank itself up, speculating on her imminent
departure. So when the former Six-County Direct Ruler, on Monday
4 September, made her announcement, the political obituaries were
more or less written and ready to go to print.
So what of
Mowlam's legacy for the North?
Lauded as the most popular politician in Britain because of
her stewardship of the peace process, Mowlam, if you are to
accept the opinions of the establishment press, shouldn't be
surprised either if the pope puts her on his list for
beatification. For nationalists and republicans, the view of
Mowlam would be more akin to the curates egg: good in parts.
d while she ran with the peace process since taking up
office after the election of May 1997, it is more accurate to say
that the peace process made Mowlam rather than Mowlam making the
Pundits say that Mowlam's political instincts leaned towards
the republican and nationalist position and that she was
continually in dispute with unionists. The fact remains that it
was Mowlam who, despite her touchy-feely style, sent the British
army and RUC in to beat people off the Garvaghy Road to allow an
Orange Parade to pass.
It was against this background that the IRA reinstated its
cessation of military operations, once again opening the window
of opportunity for the peace process. Mowlam took up the
challenge and it is a credit to her, but it was the IRA's
initiative that put the peace process back on track.
For us in Ireland, she is another Direct Ruler who came, saw
and didn't conquer. She went and Mandelson arrived with the more
typical patrician style. And that is the key point. The style of
Direct Ruler may change from one to the next, yet all we want to
see is the last one.