03 August 2005

BBC NEWS | Politics | Mo Mowlam 'critical but stable'


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Ex-cabinet minister Mo Mowlam is widely popular

Former Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam is critically ill, hospital officials have said.

The popular and charismatic ex-cabinet minister oversaw the negotiations which led to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Ms Mowlam, Labour MP for Redcar between 1987-2001, is well-known for her outspoken views and tactile charm.

A spokeswoman at King's College Hospital said Ms Mowlam, 55, had been admitted at the weekend. She described her condition as "critical but stable".

She would not give further details of Ms Mowlam's illness or say whether it was connected to a previous brain tumour.


Ms Mowlam, who is married to merchant banker Jon Norton, was popular with voters, partly because of her determination to carry on as Northern Ireland secretary despite treatment for a brain tumour which caused hair loss.

In 1998 she took a particular political risk by going inside the Maze Prison when it became clear that the peace process would only succeed with the backing of the prisoners. The loyalist UDA/UFF prisoners had previously withdrawn their support for the process.

She spoke to the prisoners face-to-face for 60 minutes, and two hours later the paramilitaries' political representatives announced they were being allowed to rejoin the talks.

She told reporters at the time: "I didn't negotiate, I didn't do a deal. If you want progress, you ain't going to get it if you don't have talks."

Standing ovation

She made the peace agreement a personal triumph, but reconciliation eluded her.

In 1999 she was replaced as Northern Ireland secretary by Peter Mandelson, and became Tony Blair's cabinet "enforcer", seen by some as merely being a minister for the Today programme.

Her time in the cabinet was somewhat marred by a steady flow of reports that someone in a high place was "briefing against her".

There were also claims that Mr Blair was annoyed that the 1998 Labour Party conference had given her a standing ovation during his speech - a charge denied by the prime minister.

I presume you have notified Martin McGuinness about this .. ?
Let's see now ....if it's Thursday ....hmmm... he has to be in Washington !

It was during one or other of the many 'crisis'-times in the 'peace process' that Mr McGuinness was pulled in , in his car , by Brit Army soldiers . Well .... Martin was , as usual , in a hurry and had no time to co-operate with those particular employees of the Brit state (they had the wrong uniforms on !) so he whipped-out his .... mobile phone (!) , rang Mo , had a few words with her and then passed his mobile over to the soldier in charge . The poor man got a right bollocking from Mo for pulling Martin in in the first place , handed Mc McG back his phone and let him proceed on his merry way !
Ahh! 'Friends' in High Places ... !

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