3 March 2010

Former Northern Ireland Secretary to deliver Thomas More Lecture

‘Religion in the public square’

The Rt. Hon. Paul Murphy, MP
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 2002 - 2005
Catholicism and the Northern Ireland Peace Process

Tuesday 9th March, Catholic Chaplaincy, 8.30pm 

The inaugural series of Thomas More Lectures is examining the role of religion in public life and discourse. As the Western World increasingly identifies itself as 'post-believing', can Christianity continue to play an effective role promoting the common good in the public forum?

The previous lectures in this series were given by Cardinal George Pell and Francis Campbell, British Ambassador to the Holy See.  They examined the positive role which religion can play in public life.  Last term's Thomas More Debate between Bishop John Arnold and Even Harris MP illustrated the challenges presented to religious communities in the face of increasing secularism.

In this lecture Paul Murphy, the former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, will address the historic challenges presented by religious affiliation in the province. He will argue that instead of seeing faith as the problem, we can find in it the building blocks to take forward peaceful and constructive dialogue.

Further details about the Thomas More Lectures, including the text of past lectures, can be found here.

Paul Murphy - Biography
Paul Murphy has been Labour MP for Torfaen since 1987. He has served twice as Secretary of State for Wales; from 1999 until 2002 and most recently under Prime Minister Gordon Brown from January 2008 until June 2009. Upon leaving the Cabinet, he was elected British Co-Chair of the British-Irish Assembly.

He was previously Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from October 2002 until May 2005. When he was last Secretary of State, Paul Murphy was also Minister for Digital Inclusion, and given responsibility for overseeing the British-Irish Council and the joint ministerial committees. He has also chaired Cabinet committees on Local Government and the Regions, and on data security and information assurance.

In May 2005, Paul Murphy was appointed Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee, serving until his re-appointment to the Cabinet in 2008.

Paul Murphy was Minister of State for Northern Ireland with responsibility for Political Development from 1997 to 1999, acting as Mo Mowlam's deputy in the talks that culminated in the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. In 1999, he was named 'Minister to Watch' at the Spectator Parliamentary Awards.

In opposition, he served as Shadow Welsh Office Minister (1988-1994), Shadow Minister for Northern Ireland, Shadow Foreign Office Minister and Shadow Minister for Defence.

Paul Murphy was born in 1948 and was educated at St Francis Roman Catholic School in Abersychan, West Monmouth School in Pontypool and Oriel College, Oxford. He was a management trainee with the CWS, before becoming a lecturer in Government and History at Ebbw Vale College of Further Education.

Mr. Murphy joined the Labour Party at the age of fifteen. He is also a member of Unite, formerly the Transport and General Workers Union. He was Secretary of the Pontypool/Torfaen Constituency Labour Party from 1971 to 1987. Mr. Murphy was a member of Torfaen Council from 1973 to 1987 and was Chair of its Finance Committee from 1976 to 1986. He contested Wells Constituency in Somerset in the 1979 General Election.

Mr. Murphy was made a Papal Knight of St. Gregory in 1997, a Privy Counsellor in 1999, and an Honorary Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford, in 2000. He was Visiting Parliamentary Fellow of St. Anthony's College, Oxford from 2006 to 2007 and in 2009 was made a Fellow of Glyndwr University, Wrexham.

Mr. Murphy's leisure interests include classical music and cooking.

(Biographical text adapted from Paul Murphy's website)

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