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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

'This must have been a very difficult decision' - Former Welsh Secretary on Pope's resignation

Former Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy is a Papal Knight of Saint Gregory, an honour bestowed on him by the previous Pope John Paul II. He's just issued this statement:

I was surprised to hear of Pope Benedict’s resignation today. Pope Benedict XVI is a formidable theologian and leader and I am confident that he has come to this decision after much consideration.

This must have been a very difficult decision for the Pope and is unprecedented in modern times. Pope Benedict XVI is a man of huge spirituality and deep faith, and all Christians have respected his stand on moral issues. I pray that the church will find a worthy successor.

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Taxes for Wales sooner rather than later - former Welsh Secretary

Former Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy has urged the UK Government to transfer control over some minor taxes as soon as possible.

He said it would trigger the borrowing powers he claimed are vital for the Welsh Government.

In reply, the current Welsh Secretary David Jones acknowledged that the transfer of smaller taxes could be added to other legislation going through parliament.

Prime Minister did not tell First Minister AMs would decide voting changes - minister

During a debate on proposed changes the Assembly's electoral system, MPs were told that the Prime Minister did not tell the First Minister that any changes would be decided by Assembly members.

The difference of recollection emerged in this exchange between former Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy and Wales Office minister David Jones:

Mr Murphy responded by saying 'In that case, someone's telling untruths.'