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Talks must continue despite 15 years since Good Friday Agreement - Murphy

Former Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy has joined other senior figures in marking the 15th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. As minister during Mo Mowlam's period in office, the Torfaen MP was fully involved in the negotiations leading up to the agreement.

I was lucky to have been Mo Mowlam’s Minister for Political Development in Northern Ireland. The build-up to the Agreement was the most memorable political experience of my life. I will always feel deeply privileged to have been a part of the negotiations, but I also remember the significant ups and downs of the process. Most of all, I am blessed to have worked with Mo, an inspiration to us all and a stalwart of the values and belief that led to the Good Friday Agreement.

Credit has to go above all to the people of Northern Ireland for facing up to the difficult choices that the peace process inevitably presented, but also to Tony Blair and John Major before him, and to Bertie Ahern and the countless politicians in Northern Ireland itself, who moved from the comfort zones of established positions to work towards peace. Things have not been easy since, but it serves us well to remember the horrific number of victims during the worst years of the Troubles, and reflect on the lives that have been saved through peace, imperfect though it may sometimes be.

– Paul Murphy MP, former Northern Ireland Secretary

But he has a warning against complacency, saying that despite the success of the Good Friday Agreement, efforts to maintain peace in Northern Ireland must continue.

Unfortunately in recent months, a small minority of people have sought to bring violence back on to the streets of Northern Ireland. What we must remember is the progress that Northern Ireland has made in the last fifteen years, the development of its economy and infrastructure, and the solidification of peace amongst its people. It remains vital that the UK Government maintains talks with the main parties in Northern Ireland to ensure that all of the efforts in bringing a stable peace do not fall by the wayside.

– Paul Murphy MP, former Northern Ireland Secretary


Challenge to Hain contempt case

A lawyer defending Labour MP Peter Hain against claims he "scandalised a judge" has questioned whether the offence still exists in law.

At a preliminary court hearing in Belfast, David Dunlop also cast doubt on whether the case brought by Northern Ireland Attorney General John Larkin complied with the European Convention on Human Rights.

However, Mr Larkin defended his decision to prosecute the former Northern Ireland Secretary of State for critical comments he made about a High Court judge in his autobiography.

Peter Hain contempt case due to begin

The Shadow Welsh Secretary has been supported by a cross-party MPs in defending the case Credit: ITV News Wales

Shadow Welsh Secretary Peter Hain is to face legal action over critical comments he made about a leading Northern Irish judge in his recently-published memoir.

Mr Hain, a former Northern Ireland Secretary, made the comments about the handling of a judicial review case by Lord Justice Girvan in 2006.

The case is set to receive a first hearing at a Belfast court this morning, after the Attorney General of Northern Ireland claimed the passage "undermines the administration of justice". Both Mr Hain and his publisher, Biteback, face contempt of court charges.

In a statement, Biteback Managing Director Iain Dale said "as a publisher, I strongly support free speech, not least by our elected politicians, and we will therefore be vigorously defending this case.