Former N. Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam dies

Britain's former Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam, a colorful politician who played a pivotal role in the province's peace process, died in a hospice south of London on Friday. She was 55.

A popular and outspoken character, Mowlam served in Prime Minister Tony Blair's government for four years from 1997 after recovering from a brain tumor.

"Mo was surely one of the most remarkable and colorful personalities ever to come into politics. Great company, utterly irreverent, full of life and fun," Blair said in a statement.

"Yet behind that extraordinary front presented to the world was one of the shrewdest political minds I ever encountered."

Blair shifted her from Northern Ireland Secretary in 1999 to a lesser ministerial job.

According to Times Online before stepping down from politics in 2001, she topped a poll as the public's choice to succeed him as prime minister, reports Reuters.

John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, said: "Mo was in politics for the right reasons - she believed in the power of politics to achieve social justice. She combined a fine intellect with a straightforward, no nonsense approach that spoke directly to people."

Michael Howard, the Conservative leader, said: "She displayed considerable bravery, both in her personal battle against serious illness and in tackling difficult political issues, often employing her engagingly unorthodox style to great effect. Her honesty and sense of fun enriched our national life."

Charles Kennedy, the Liberal Democrat leader, said: "She displayed great courage and deep humanity both in her public life in politics and privately coping with her prolonged medical condition."

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