Mandelson lifts lid on living the high life at Hillsborough
Gerry Adams called Peter Mandelson to offer commiserations after the Labour peer was forced to quit as Northern Ireland Secretary over claims he secured Indian businessman Srichand Hinduja a UK passport.
Lord Mandelson sheds light on his time in the post in his memoirs, The Third Man, out today, admitting he quickly became very accustomed to living in plush surroundings of Hillsborough Castle.
He said he spent as much time in the province as possible and was reluctant to leave, spending two Christmases there with family and Reinaldo, his partner.
He said: “I did fear that living in Hillsborough would be a bit like living in a National Trust property. It was also the official residence of the Queen in Northern Ireland, full of imposing antiques and set in wonderfully manicured grounds, with an enormous park surrounding it. Mo (Mowlam) assured me that it was a great place for having parties and that on many weekends she had brought friends and acquaintances over from London to enjoy the house and its gardens.
“I later learned that in the course of the party-goers’ boozy fun and games, even bouncing up and down on the Queen’s imposing bed had not been unheard of.
“My subsequent use of the house would be decidedly sober in contrast.”
Treasured pet Bobby, a parson’s terrier, “became a star” in Northern Ireland with the office inundated with requests for photographs and schoolgirls frequently shouting “where is he?”
Lord Mandelson’s memoirs, which have been rushed out ahead Tony Blair’s tome due in autumn, set out in a chapter ‘Being Fired’ how he attempted to be “straight down the line” with all politicians in Northern Ireland during the most difficult negotiations while in the job.
During talks with the Ulster Unionists he recounted making a personal promise: “If the IRA don’t follow through with decommissioning I will stand by you. I will not allow you to take the burden or the blame for failure. I will do it myself.”
He also sheds light on how he took over the job from his predecessor who he claims was treated by the media like a “saint”, and insisting his comeback was a complete surprise.
Lord Mandelson told how Mo Mowlam had asked for him to put a word in with Tony Blair to keep the job but instead the Prime Minister delivered “a bolt from the blue” giving him the job, he claims.