Mo Mowlam remembered
Mo Mowlam remembered

Tributes have been paid on the death of former British Secretary of State, Mo Mowlam, who finally succumbed to a brain tumour on Friday morning.

Mowlam is regarded, mainly by nationalists, as Britain's most successful appointee to the post.

A key player in the negotiation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, Mowlam's earthy and open manner marked a brief but effective change from the imperialist style of other British Direct Rulers.

British Prime Minister, Tony Blair described as Mowlam "one of the most remarkable and colourful personalities" ever to enter British politics. However, Blair will be remembered as the one who, jealous of her growing popularity, forced Mowlam out of British politics.

The Irish Prime Minister, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said her death would be met with a great sense of sadness by all who knew her.

"Even at her lowest moments, she always seemed to have enough energy and enthusiasm to lift an occasion and to inspire those around her. No matter what the challenge, Mo tackled it with courage and sincerity," Mr Ahern said.

"She was a politician and a person whom the Irish people held in great affection and esteem."

Mowlam will also be remebered for a number of serious mistakes. In particular, her decision in 1997 to reverse a commitment and allow an Orange Order march to be forced down the nationalist Garvaghy Road in Portadown had a highly destabiling effect on the situation in the North.

However, Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness said she would be fondly remembered.

"Mo Mowlam brought a unique energy to the search for a political settlement when she was first appointed after the 1997 British general election. She was an obvious departure from previous British secretaries of state," he said.

"She played a crucial role in the negotiations which led to the Good Friday Agreement and it is that Agreement which will be remembered as her political legacy here.

"We were, of course, always conscious of the fact that she was a British minister and was at the mercy of the securocrats within the NIO system.

"There was, of course, occasions when we clashed, most notably when she caved into Orange Order threats and forced an Orange march along the Garvaghy Road in Portadown and when she authorised the bugging of a car used by Gerry Adams and myself during the negotiations.

"However, Mo Mowlam will be remembered fondly by the vast majority of Irish people, and I would extend my thoughts and sympathies to her husband John and the rest of her family at this time."

Sinn Fein Dail leader Caoimhghin O Caolain also paid tribute.

"Unquestionably she had a special way with her that endeared her to people who met her. She will of course be fondly remembered in Ireland. There will be those who viewed her disposition as being favourable towards the Nationalist and Republican cause, but they may have a more jaundiced view," said Mr O Caolain.

"Without question, people of good heart and goodwill will clearly reflect favourably on her."

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© 2005 Irish Republican News