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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 August 2005, 17:15 GMT 18:15 UK
Mo Mowlam health 'deteriorating'
Mo Mowlam
Ex-cabinet minister Mo Mowlam is widely popular
Critically ill former Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam's health is now "deteriorating", friends have said.

Ms Mowlam, 55, was moved from hospital to the Pilgrim Hospice, in Canterbury, Kent, last week.

She had been taken to King's College Hospital in London two weeks ago, but was transferred to the hospice to be closer to her family.

Doctors have given no details of her illness, including whether or not it is connected to her previous brain tumour.

Jail talks

Ms Mowlam, Labour MP for Redcar between 1987 and 2001, oversaw the talks which led to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland.

In 1998, as Northern Ireland secretary, she went inside the Maze Prison when it became clear that the peace process would only succeed with the backing of the prisoners.

The loyalist UDA/UFF prisoners had previously withdrawn their support for the process.

She spoke to the prisoners face-to-face for 60 minutes, and two hours later the paramilitaries' political representatives announced they were being allowed to rejoin the talks.

In 1999 she was replaced as Northern Ireland secretary by Peter Mandelson, and became Tony Blair's Cabinet Office "enforcer".

She subsequently stood down as an MP and in recent years has pursued a career in the media.

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