Belfast Telegraph

MP Turley in campaign for fitting memorial to Mo Mowlam

By Claire McNeilly

A campaign for a new, permanent tribute to former Northern Ireland Secretary of State Mo Mowlam has been launched on the 10th anniversary of her death.

Mowlam was a popular Labour MP for Redcar, and present incumbent Anne Turley said not enough had been done to commemorate the achievements of the woman known locally as "Our Mo".

During her time in office, Marjorie 'Mo' Mowlam was regularly cited as Britain's most popular politician, although that wasn't the case with all civic leaders in Northern Ireland. Indeed, her determination to bring Sinn Fein into mainstream politics made her unpopular with unionists.

A mosaic in her honour already exists near the Coatham boating lake, near her former Newcomen Terrace home in the north of England.

It was unveiled in 2009 as a public-funded tribute to Mo, who died on August 19, 2005, aged 55, after bravely battling a brain tumour. But Ms Turley said more needed to be done to pay tribute to her predecessor's lifetime successes.

"Mo was an amazing woman and a true inspiration," she said.

"She played a major role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland and was a hugely influential woman in the last Labour Government.

"Everyone I meet has a story to tell of how she helped them with a problem, or just shared a hug or even a whisky."

As Northern Ireland Secretary from 1997-99, she crucially helped bring peace to Northern Ireland via the historic Good Friday Agreement.

She helped to restore an IRA ceasefire and include Sinn Fein in multi-party talks about Northern Ireland's future.

In order to persuade loyalist paramilitaries to participate in the peace process, she paid an unprecedented solo visit to loyalist prisoners in the Maze Prison, meeting convicted murderers face-to-face.

She was the first woman to hold the high-profile Northern Ireland post.

David Trimble, the then Ulster Unionist leader, found her vacillating, offensive and pro-Catholic.

Within six months of the election, he refused to negotiate with her on big issues, demanding to speak directly with the Prime Minister or his chief of staff, Jonathan Powell.

Mr Trimble made no secret of the fact that he wanted her replaced, even touting Peter Mandelson's name shortly before Mr Blair shuffled his pack in October of 1999.

Belfast Telegraph


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