Category: Archive

Mo Mowlam, dead at 55, praised by leaders

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Mowlam had a brain tumor and died after going into a coma at a hospice in England on Friday. She had difficulties with her balance after radiotherapy and, earlier this month she fell and never regained consciousness.
She had asked not to be resuscitated in the event of going into a coma and, in the last few days, according to her wishes, food and water were withdrawn.
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,” he said.
“She was a politician and a person whom the Irish people held in great affection and esteem,” Ahern added.
Former President Bill Clinton said: “Mo was an integral part of building a peace process in Northern Ireland that has endured for over a decade. Her persistence, toughness and good humor were legendary. All of us who worked to support peace in Northern Ireland owe her our gratitude. Hillary and I cherished the times we spent together, and will carry the warmth of her friendship always.”
The British prime minister, Tony Blair, described Mowlam as “one of the most remarkable and colorful personalities” ever to enter British politics. He said she had “transformed” the politics of Northern Ireland as well as playing a key role in the creation of New Labor.
Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness said: “Mo Mowlam brought a unique energy to the search for a political settlement when she was first appointed after the 1997 British general election,” said McGuinness. praising her humanity and warmth.
(Leaked details of a bugged phone conversation once revealed she referred to McGuinness as “Babe” — although she was similarly informal with many others.)
“She was an obvious departure from previous British Secretaries of State,” McGuinness continued. “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.
“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 system. There were occasions when we clashed, most notably when she caved into Orange Order threats and forced an Orange march along the Garvaghy Road,” he said.
The DUP leader Ian Paisley said: “Her battle against illness was faced with bravery and determination and amidst all her health problems she retained her character and personality,” he began.
But, he went on, “She was of course no lover of unionists. Stating that convicted murders were unsung heroes of the peace process caused great offence,” adding that Mowlam had “sadly never faced up to the widespread opposition to the Belfast agreement.”
SDLP leader, Mark Durkan, said “Mo came to the North in very difficult circumstances – both personally and politically – and quickly won the respect and admiration of many local politicians and the wider public.
“While she was undoubtedly a great character, Mo Mowlam should not just be remembered for her wicked sense of humor. She should also be remembered for her deep sense of social justice, her tremendous courage and compassion and, above all, for the contribution she made to the achievement of the Good Friday agreement,” Durkan said.
Blair had made her Northern Secretary when Labor swept to power in 1997 and she quickly made a name for herself as a down-to-earth and honest operator. Her achievements were all the more remarkable because she was recovering from treatment for the brain tumor.
She took a particular political risk in 1998 by speaking to loyalist paramilitaries when it became clear the peace process needed their backing. UDA prisoners had previously withdrawn their support. Afterwards, the UDA announced they were rejoining the talks.
In 1999 she was replaced by Peter Mandelson and apponted to become Cabinet “enforcer.” But despite her popularity, her political career eventually faded – a fact she blamed on a whispering campaign allegedly mounted against her by some of her Cabinet colleagues.
Her memoirs, entitled “Momentum”, published in May 2002, appeared to show her as a woman who felt she had been betrayed by her colleagues and who suspected that some fellow ministers wanted her to be dumped out of office.

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