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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 December 2005, 22:06 GMT
Celebration of Mo Mowlam's life
Mo Mowlam
Ms Mowlam oversaw talks which led to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement
Tributes have been paid to former Northern Ireland secretary Mo Mowlam during a celebration of her life at Hillsborough Castle.

It was hosted by Secretary of State Peter Hain who applauded the "crucial role" Mo played in Northern Ireland.

Mo's husband Jon Norton and family were among 200 invited guests, including politicians and women's groups.

Messages were broadcast from Prime Minister Tony Blair, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern as well as Hillary Clinton.

Guests at the celebration included those who Mo met during her time in Northern Ireland - from May 1997 until October 1999.

Journalists and people from the voluntary and education sector were also invited to attend the celebration.

Mr Hain, former security minister Adam Ingram, Baroness May Blood and Jon Norton all spoke at the event.

Mr Hain said: "I was privileged to have known Mo, both as a colleague but also as a friend. She was a courageous politician who was driven by an innate determination to fight injustice.

Jon Norton
Mo's husband Jon Norton attended the celebration

"She was also unique. No politician, no Cabinet minister was, or will ever be, quite like her. A real people's politician.

"Mo made a huge contribution to the political process in Northern Ireland and amongst her many achievements is the crucial role she played in the signing of the Agreement in 1998.

"During her time as secretary of state, Mo Mowlam played a key role in making Northern Ireland a better place to live.

"Mo loved Northern Ireland and people across Northern Ireland loved her. Breaking down barriers with her informal manner and warm personality, her ability to make people feel at ease endeared Mo to so many. She will never be forgotten."

He said that the event was not a sad occasion, rather a time to celebrate the life of Mo and an opportunity to "reflect on her many achievements."

Former deputy first ministers Seamus Mallon and Mark Durkan attended.

On Friday, in a private family ceremony, half of Mo's ashes will be scattered at Hillsborough.

The remainder will be taken to Redcar where she was a Labour MP from 1987-2001.

Her husband John Norton said she had a deep affection for both Hillsborough and Redcar.

"We had a wonderful time when we lived here, Hillsborough was an important place in her heart," he said.

"I thought Northern Ireland, Hillsborough, would be a great place to put some of her ashes and the rest in her constituency, Redcar, in the north of England."

A children's park in the Stormont Estate, which was built at Mo's suggestion, is to be named in her memory.

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