Conor Murphy

This article is about the Sinn Féin politician. For the American ice hockey player, see Connor Murphy.
Conor Murphy

Murphy at St Patrick's High School, Keady (November 2011)
Minister for Regional Development
In office
8 May 2007  16 May 2011
Preceded by Peter Robinson
Succeeded by Danny Kennedy
Member of Parliament
for Newry and Armagh
In office
5 May 2005  30 March 2015
Preceded by Seamus Mallon
Succeeded by Mickey Brady
Majority 8,195 (16.2%)
Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for Newry and Armagh
In office
25 June 1998  June 2012
Preceded by Constituency created
Succeeded by Megan Fearon
Personal details
Born (1963-07-10) 10 July 1963
Camlough, County Armagh, Northern Ireland
Nationality Irish
Political party Sinn Féin
Alma mater University of Ulster
Queen's University of Belfast
Religion Roman Catholicism
Website Conor Murphy MLA

Conor Terence Murphy[1] (born 10 July 1963) is an Irish republican Sinn Féin politician who is the Member of the Legislative Assembly of Northern Ireland for Newry and Armagh. He served as the Member of Parliament for Newry and Armagh from 2005-2015.[2][3]

Murphy was born in Camlough, South Armagh and joined the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) during the 1981 hunger strikes.[4] In 1982 he was sentenced to five years in prison for IRA membership and possession of explosives.[5]

Between 1989 and 1997, he was a Sinn Féin councillor on Newry and Mourne District Council for The Fews area,[6] in South Armagh and South Down, and served as his party's group leader at that level.[4]

In 1998, Murphy was elected as one of his party's two Northern Ireland Assembly members for Newry and Armagh. He was re-elected, with two party colleagues, to the Assembly in 2003.[7] He lives in Camlough, County Armagh with his wife Catherine, his daughter Áine and his son Oisín. He attended St Colman's College, Newry, Queen's University of Belfast (QUB), and the University of Ulster.

In 2001, he contested the Newry and Armagh Westminster seat, coming second to incumbent Seamus Mallon of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). When Mallon decided not to contest the seat again, Murphy became the clear favourite to win and was elected on 5 May 2005.[8][9]

He refused to take his seat in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom in line with the abstentionist policy of Sinn Féin. In the Northern Ireland Assembly, he served as the Minister for Regional Development in the Northern Ireland Executive from 8 May 2007 until 16 May 2011. While on a tour of UK party conferences in autumn 2005, he became the first Irish republican to address the Conservative Party conference and caused controversy by refusing to express regret over the Brighton hotel bombing.[10]

In 2011, while Minister for Regional Development, Murphy appointed Sean Hogan, a Catholic, as head of Northern Ireland Water, turning down the applications of four Protestants on the shortlist. A tribunal subsequently awarded £150,000 damages for discrimination to one of these applicants, Alan Lennon, judging that Hogan was appointed because "he was not from a Protestant background and because he was known to the minister and his (then Sinn Fein) ministerial colleagues Michelle Gildernew and Caitriona Ruane, who were consulted about the appointment."[11] The tribunal found Murphy's evidence was "implausible and lack[ing] credibility", and that, during Murphy's tenure at the Department for Regional Development, there was a "material bias against the appointment of candidates from a Protestant background".[12] Murphy disputed the finding which he said branded him "sectarian".[13] Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness defended him, claiming Murphy doesn't have "a sectarian bone in his body".[14]

In December 2012, Murphy appeared as a witness at Belfast High Court in the case of Declan Gormley, whom Murphy had sacked in 2010 from his post as a non-executive director of NI Water. Gormley sued Sinn Féin over two press releases which he argued were defamatory. Gormley was subsequently offered £80,000 in damages.[15]


  1. Profile,; accessed 29 November 2015.
  2. Northern Ireland Assembly: Conor Murphy
  3. Conor Murphy biography
  4. 1 2 "Sinn Féin can take Newry/Armagh". An Phoblacht. Retrieved 12 February 2007.
  5. "Back to jail for politicians". BBC News. 27 May 2002. Retrieved 20 February 2007.
  6. Newry and Mourne election results ARK, accessed 1 April 2011
  7. "Newry and Armagh". ARK. Retrieved 12 February 2007.
  8. "Changes certain in race for poll". BBC News. 5 April 2005. Retrieved 12 February 2007.
  9. "Sinn Féin win Newry and Armagh". BBC News. 6 May 2005. Retrieved 12 February 2007.
  10. "MP 'no regrets' over Tory bombing". BBC News. 4 October 2005. Retrieved 12 February 2007.
  11. "Department for Regional Development discriminated against candidate". BBC News. 20 June 2012. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
  12. "Employment tribunal criticises ex-Sinn Fein minister Murphy". Irish News. 21 June 2012. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
  13. "Alan Lennon case: Protestant job applicant to receive £150,000". BBC News. 22 November 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2012.
  14. "Conor Murphy 'hasn't a sectarian bone', says McGuinness". BBC News. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
  15. "Sinn Fein order to pay £80,000 to ex NI water director in libel action". Belfast Daily. 14 December 2012. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
Northern Ireland Assembly
Preceded by
New creation
MLA for Newry and Armagh
Succeeded by
Megan Fearon
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Séamus Mallon
Member of Parliament for Newry and Armagh
2005 – 2015
Succeeded by
Mickey Brady
Political offices
Preceded by
Office suspended
Minister for Regional Development
Succeeded by
Danny Kennedy
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