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Wednesday, July 28, 1999 Published at 19:23 GMT 20:23 UK

UK Politics

Paul Murphy: A Welsh homecoming

Paul Murphy had been Mo Mowlam's deputy since 1997

Labour's rising star Paul Murphy has been named as the new Welsh Secretary in a move that will see him returning to his personal and political roots.

For several weeks Mr Murphy - until now a Northern Ireland minister - had been widely tipped to replace his boss Mo Mowlam as Northern Ireland Secretary.

But instead she is staying put and he will succeed Alun Michael at the Welsh Office.

In his new job, the 50-year-old Welsh MP will be Downing Street's connection to the Welsh Assembly, which Mr Michael now leads as First Secretary.

Mr Murphy's promotion is the only change in the Cabinet in Tony Blair's reshuffle. But more changes are expected in the junior and middle ranks of the government.

[ image: Mr Murphy: A devout Catholic who won over loyalists and nationalists]
Mr Murphy: A devout Catholic who won over loyalists and nationalists
Mr Murphy, a former lecturer, has represented the Welsh seat of Torfaen since 1987.

In opposition he made his mark as a spokesman on Northern Ireland, Welsh affairs, defence and foreign affairs.

Since joining the government in 1997, Mr Murphy has gained a growing reputation for his work on the peace process.

He is known for his laid back approach which is said to disguise a shrewd brain.

He is a conciliator with an eye for detail and has known few political enemies.

He once famously used the Welsh language to defuse an awkward situation where a Sinn Fein member used Gaelic during the talks.

He is a Roman Catholic known to have strong views on abortion and has often complained about pollution from toxic waste disposal.

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