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Saturday, 27 December, 1997, 13:48 GMT
British government minister to visit Protestant inmates

The British government's Northern Ireland secretary, Mo Mowlam, has decided to visit Protestant paramilitary inmates in the Maze prison, near Belfast, in a bid to rescue the province's fragile peace process.

She said she was ready to go the extra mile to ensure enough Unionist representation at the talks to take the peace process forward.

Protestant prisoners' groups have withdrawn their support for the talks, which are due to resume on Monday: they say the British government has been making too many concessions to the IRA and its political wing, Sinn Fein.

The BBC's parliamentary correspondent said Mo Mowlam's visit demonstrates the strong influence prisoners have on the peace process.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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