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Thursday, 24 October, 2002, 18:19 GMT 19:19 UK
Mixed reaction to Reid departure
Dr Reid served as NI secretary for just under two years
The departure of John Reid as Northern Ireland Secretary has been met with mixed reaction by the political parties in the province.

Dr Reid was appointed as chairman of the Labour Party on Thursday in a cabinet reshuffle that followed the resignation of education secretary Estelle Morris.

Charles Clarke, the former party chairman succeeds Ms Morris, while the Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy has been named the new secretary of state for Northern Ireland.

One of Dr Reid's final acts was the suspension of the power-sharing assembly following allegations of IRA intelligence gathering at the Northern Ireland Office.

Ulster Unionist Party MLA
Reg Empey:Paul Murphy is somebody who is committed

Sir Reg Empey, a senior member of the Ulster Unionist Party, said Dr Reid's departure was no great shock.

"It hasn't worked out terribly well for him because we are in a position where the institutions are suspended," he said.

"He's almost two years in the job and I suspect this was a convenient break for him."

The former enterprise minister in the assembly welcomed the appointment of Paul Murphy.

"I know him well from his involvement in the Belfast Agreement," he said.

Surprised

"Paul will be a safe pair of hands and I know he's somebody who's committed to devolution."

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said Dr Reid's record was one of "dismal failure".

"He failed to grasp the imperative of the current situation and he suspended the institutions three times."

Leader of the Alliance Party David Ford said he was surprised at Dr Reid's departure given the current crisis in the political process.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams: "Dr Reid's record was one of dismal failure"

However, he said Paul Murphy had an excellent track record and wished him well in his new post.

"In Paul Murphy we have a secretary of state who gained a wealth of experience within the Northern Ireland Office at the time of the Agreement and also brought about a successful partnership government in Wales."

DUP assembly member Ian Paisley Junior said Dr Reid's departure was a welcome development.

"I think this is very much a sign that direct rule from Westminster is being firmly bedded in," he said.

"I also suspect it's a sign that there may not be assembly elections next year.


"Our regret at John's departure is mitigated by the fact that his successor, Paul Murphy, is no stranger to Northern Ireland

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Brian Cowen

"I would also think it's another indication that we have reached the end of the Belfast Agreement."

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Brian Cowen said Dr Reid would be genuinely missed and paid tribute to his work.

He said: "During his nearly two years in office as Secretary of State, John has applied his considerable political talents, his formidable intellect and his enviable communication skills to significantly advancing the peace process in Northern Ireland.

He added: "Our regret at John's departure is mitigated by the fact that his successor, Paul Murphy, is no stranger to Northern Ireland.

"I congratulate Paul on his appointment as secretary of state and look forward to working very closely with him in the period ahead."

Deputy leader of the nationalist SDLP Brid Rodgers welcomed Mr Murphy's appointment.

"He has experience of multi-party talks in Northern Ireland," she observed.

"He understands the situation and that will clearly help the process."

Women's Coalition leader Monica McWilliams also expressed surprise at the timing of Dr Reid's departure.

"Whatever the change of personnel, the first priority of the Northern Ireland Office must be working to help overcome our current difficulties and restoring devolved government, she said.

"The Northern Ireland Office is one of the hardest portfolio's in the UK cabinet, but Paul Murphy's experience in the NIO during the talks process will serve him well."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's political editor Mark Devenport:
"Paul Murphy has been noted as a safe pair of hands"
BBC NI's London correspondent Stephen Walker:
"You can see the reason Paul Murphy was brought in"

Key stories

Morris quits

Analysis

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See also:

24 Oct 02 | N Ireland
15 Oct 02 | N Ireland
24 Jan 01 | N Ireland
23 Mar 01 | Key People
24 Jan 01 | Scotland
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