Republican News · Thursday 07 September 2000

[An Phoblacht]

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 peace process.

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.

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