Belfast Telegraph

Mo Mowlam airbrushed from Good Friday Agreement's history, claims angry stepdaughter

By Brett Campbell

The stepdaughter of the late Mo Mowlam has launched a scathing attack on Tony Blair for helping to airbrush the former Secretary of State from history.

Writing in The Guardian, Henrietta Norton described how she was forced to avoid media coverage of the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement which left her wanting to shout "where the f*** is she?" at her television last Tuesday.

"My frustration and anger began to boil over," she wrote.

"I missed Mo more this week than I do on the anniversary of her death, or her birthday.

"Her absence was everywhere in the British media's coverage of the anniversary of the Agreement."

The documentary filmmaker reserved most of her scorn for former Prime Minister Blair, who she said didn't even mention her stepmum's name in a speech delivered in Belfast.

"He made no acknowledgment of her role in the negotiations at all," she added.

"Perhaps he was afraid that he might get another standing ovation about someone else in the middle of one of his speeches?"

The omission stood in stark contrast to the moving tribute Mr Blair made following Mowlam's death in August 2005 when he said "it is no exaggeration" to say that her "determination, charm and sheer life force" transformed the political landscape here and changed the relationship between the Republic and the UK.

Former Labour Party deputy leader Harriet Harman has also been critical of the lack of recognition afforded to her late colleague who worked tirelessly to secure peace despite being diagnosed with a brain tumour in 1997.

As key architects of the Agreement - including President Bill Clinton and former US special envoy George Mitchell - gathered in the city, Ms Harman tweeted the front cover of a news publication which had one noticeable omission from its all-male line-up.

"They should've put Mo Mowlam in this pic - so we could remember what she did and all the other women who played their part in the peace process!" she tweeted.

Mowlam has been widely praised for bringing her distinctive personality to the talks which kept loyalists and republicans at the negotiating table.

Ms Norton said her stepmum always understood that the inclusion of women was imperative to persuading men to join the conversation.

But the shrewd operator also knew the importance of keeping victims and paramilitary leaders on board, which required her to walk a tightrope.

Ms Norton, who directed Born And Reared - which tells the stories of four contemporary men here living in the aftermath of the Troubles - now fears that her step-mother will be written out of history.

"I've been pitching a film to commissioners at various broadcasters: an authored, personal story in Mo's memory that would celebrate and explore her legacy for contemporary women," she wrote.

"I've been told 'no one would be interested'. That they 'couldn't see who would watch it'."

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