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Monday, 11 October, 1999, 19:50 GMT 20:50 UK
Mixed reaction to Mandelson appointment
Unionists welcome Peter Mandelson as a replacement for Mo Mowlam
Peter Mandelson welcomed as Mo Mowlam's replacement
The Northern Ireland political parties have given a mixed reaction to the appointment of Peter Mandelson as secretary of state in place of Mo Mowlam.

The Ulster Unionists (UUP), the largest party in the NI Assembly, said it was a "huge relief" that there was going to be a change at the top.

Ulster Unionist security spokesman Ken Maginnis said that what was needed "at the helm" was a "hard head" not a "hasty heart".

Mr Maginnis said he believed that the new NI secretary's first priority should be to "make corrections" in the direction of Northern Ireland policy.

Ken Maginnis: new NI secretary must change NI policy direction
Ken Maginnis: new NI secretary must change NI policy direction
"I do not know him very well, but I imagine his ability to handle matters in the public arena will be an advantage.

"He has an exceedingly difficult job coming at this particular time.

"He has to make corrections to Northern Ireland policy and direction and will, if he sticks to democratic principles and adheres to those issues of genuine public interest, certainly have the co-operation of the Ulster Unionist Party."

His party leader David Trimble said he welcomed Mr Mandelson's appointment and he looked forward to working with him. He hoped a meeting would be arranged on Tuesday.

Cabinet reshuffle
Mr Trimble called for the resignation of Dr Mowlam in July and there has been increasing hostility towards Dr Mowlam from members of his party.

Senior Ulster Unionist Reg Empey said that although Mr Mandelson had had little involvement in Northern Ireland affairs "the one thing he stands for is success".

'New political direction needed'

Leader of the anti-Agreement Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Ian Paisley said the news was a confirmation that Mo Mowlam was leaving Northern Ireland in failure.

But he said: "It is a pity that NI is to get in her place another political failure. NI requires not only new political leadership in the Northern Ireland Office but a new political direction.

He added: "It doesn't matter who is secretary of state.

"There is no change in the policy. Until there is a change of policy there cane be no betterment for the people of Northern Ireland."

The SDLP, while praising Dr Mowlam's role, has welcomed Mr Mandelson's appointment. A statement said they were sure he would approach his new role with "energy and vigour".

SDLP Assembly member for south Belfast Carmel Hanna, said the new secretary of state was a "doer" and a "problem-solver".

"I mean this as a compliment: Peter Mandelson has political skills of the highest order - he makes Machiavelli look like Mary Poppins", she said.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams praised the role Mo Mowlam had played in negotiating the Agreement and called for an urgent meeting with the new Northern Ireland Secretary.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Audio
Ken Maginnis: At this point the peace process needs a "hard head" not a "hasty heart"
Audio
Ian Paisley tells BBC NI's Noel Thompson: Mandelson will have hard time teaching Ulster people a lesson
See also:

12 Oct 99 | UK Politics
11 Oct 99 | UK Politics
11 Oct 99 | Talking Point
Links to more N Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.


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