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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 May, 2005, 14:24 GMT 15:24 UK
Three new NIO ministers appointed
Peter Hain
Peter Hain has replaced Paul Murphy
Prime Minister Tony Blair has made three new appointments to the Northern Ireland Office as part of his cabinet re-shuffle.

David Hanson and Lord Rooker have been made ministers, taking over from Barry Gardiner and Ian Pearson.

Shaun Woodward, a millionaire who defected from the Conservative Party to Labour, was made a junior NIO minister.

Angela Smith remains at the NIO but there is no confirmation of John Spellar's fate.

David Hanson is the MP for Delyn in North Wales and is a trusted ally of Tony Blair, having been his Parliamentary Private Secretary for the last four years.

David Hanson

Lord Rooker - formerly an MP for Birmingham's Perry Barr - moves from the Home Office to take up his new position.

The portfolios will be announced on Tuesday, a statement from the NIO said.

Ian Pearson is to be Minister for Trade at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Barry Gardiner becomes Parliamentary Secretary at the Department for Productivity Energy and Industry.

Meanwhile, the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Hain, is continuing to meet Northern Ireland's political parties.

After arriving in Belfast on Monday the successor to Paul Murphy had a walkabout in the city centre then met DUP and Sinn Fein delegations at Stormont.

He met an SDLP delegation on Tuesday, headed by the party's leader, Mark Durkan.

DUP leader Ian Paisley, deputy leader Peter Robinson and North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds were on the first party delegation to meet Mr Hain.

Lord Rooker
Lord Rooker is moving from the Home Office to the NIO

At the meeting the current political situation was discussed along with a number of other issues.

Mr Dodds said they urged Mr Hain to move the process on without Sinn Fein.

"We have to get on with making sure that the people's views are represented and the people have an input into the governing of Northern Ireland," he said.

"It's quite clear that everything since the spectacular failure of the provisional movement to move into the democratic process since Christmas and their ongoing failure to move into that process means that we cannot afford, as democrats, to be hanging around waiting for them.

"We must move on."

Shaun Woodward is a millionaire who joined Labour in 1999

A Sinn Fein delegation also met Mr Hain.

Speaking afterwards party President Gerry Adams said the government should press on with reforms.

"Key elements of the Good Friday Agreement do not require co-operation from the DUP," he said.

"Progress on equality, human rights, collusion, the Irish language, demilitarisation, justice and policing are entirely within the gift of the British government.

"There is an increased onus on the British government to face up to the many issues within its control."

Mr Hain's appointment followed big changes in Northern Ireland's political landscape, with the DUP and Sinn Fein making large electoral gains.

Meanwhile, the Conservative Party announced that David Lidington would remain as shadow Northern Ireland secretary.


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NI secretary arrives in Belfast
09 May 05 |  Northern Ireland


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