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Alban Maginness

The debt of gratitude we owe Mo Mowlam for peace we enjoy

Alban Maginness


Secretary of State's tireless efforts helped usher in 1998 deal

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Commitment: Former NI Secretary of State Mo Mowlam who died in 2005

Commitment: Former NI Secretary of State Mo Mowlam who died in 2005

Commitment: Former NI Secretary of State Mo Mowlam who died in 2005

If any reader can name the current Secretary of State, or any others over the past 10 years, they deserve a prize. Failure to name any of them is excusable, as most have been undistinguished and indistinguishable. The notable exception is Julian Smith, who was appointed by Boris Johnson and, in a Herculean effort, restored the Assembly. His perverse reward from Johnson was to get the sack.

Earlier Secretaries of State were, indeed, distinguished politicians. The wily and affable Willie Whitelaw springs to mind. He was the first Secretary of State and took over the governance of Northern Ireland in 1972, at a time when it seemed like there would be a complete meltdown.

But it has to be said that the early Conservative appointees were better than the Labour ones. The Conservatives, despite their unionist sympathies, were often more adroit at dealing with both unionists and nationalists and, unlike Labour, were less reliant on a military approach as a solution.


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