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Mo Mowlam
Mo Mowlam: Visited Maze prisoners while in opposition
From the BBC News archive
Ireland correspondent Denis Murray goes inside the Maze
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Denis Murray on the Mowlam visit: "It was the first time mainstream politics from outside had gone inside"
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Mo Mowlam's Gamble 1998
As the peace process continued on the outside, it became increasingly clear that there would be no settlement without the support of the prisoners.
But the future of the peace process was thrown into doubt when loyalist UDA/UFF prisoners, representing the largest loyalist paramilitary group, withdrew support for talks in January 1998.
Risking her political career, Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam entered the Maze on the morning of 9 January to meet the men face-to-face.
Two hours after the 60 minute meeting, the paramilitaries’ political representatives announced that they had been allowed to re-join talks.
"I didn't negotiate, I didn't do a deal,” said Dr Mowlam. “If you want progress, you ain't going to get it if you don't have talks."
Praising the visit, political representatives of the prisoners made it clear that Dr Mowlam's visit had been "instrumental" in bringing the loyalist paramilitaries back from the brink.

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