07 May 2005

RTE News

Hain makes Assembly restoration a priority

07 May 2005 20:47

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The new Northern Ireland Secretary, Peter Hain, has said the election results in Northern Ireland have sent a message which he would be taking account of.

In his first statement since his appointment was announced last night, Mr Hain said getting the Assembly up and running again was 'an absolute priority' for the new British government.

Speaking outside the Northern Ireland Office in London this morning, Mr Hain added that he would be talking to all the main players in the North by phone over the weekend and would be travelling there on Monday.

He said he was 'privileged and delighted' to be doing what he described as a crucial cabinet job and that he would be giving it 100% of his effort.

The former leader of the House of Commons also paid tribute to the work done by his predecessor, Paul Murphy, and said that negotiation, effort and goodwill was the way to solve the problems facing Northern Ireland.

Mr Hain still retains his job as Welsh Secretary but added that it did not mean he would not be giving his Northern Ireland portfolio all his energy.

Congratulations from Ahern

Earlier, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, congratulated Mr Hain on his appointment.

It was made by the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, as part of an extensive reshuffle of his cabinet following his re-election this week.

Mr Hain, 55, has risen steadily through the ministerial ranks. He is the son of South African white liberals who came to Britain in the mid-60s.

He later came to prominence in the anti-apartheid movement. During his radical past he was also involved in the 'Time to Go' movement which advocated a phased British withdrawal from the North and eventual reunification of Ireland.

Mr Murphy, meanwhile, will become Chairman of the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee.

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