Unison has welcomed the appointment of Vernon Coaker MP as shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “Vernon has a good track record of working with UNISON on advancing the peace process in Northern Ireland and fighting for workers’ rights.
“We look forward to continuing this work with him at a time when Northern Ireland is facing social, economic and political difficulties.”
SDLP MP Mark Durkan also welcomed his return.
“I welcome the appointment of Vernon Coaker as the Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
“Vernon was rightly commended by many sectors and groups – not least in Derry – for the empathy and interest he demonstrated in his previous role as Shadow Secretary of State.
“His experience as a Minister and a Whip and his strong instinct as a good constituency MP combined well with committed networking across sectors and parties here to make him a spokesperson of real standing.
“Vernon has already proven his positive understanding of the issues here – social, economic, cultural, dealing with the past, the challenges of the present and opportunities for the future.
“He has always been supportive of and sensitive to the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement. But he has also been particularly conscientious in calling for Westminster to better consider the needs and circumstances of Northern Ireland when it considers wider legislation, budgets or policy.”
Mr Durkan added: “I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to outgoing Shadow Secretary of State Ivan Lewis.
“I was glad that Ivan indicated his willingness to stay with issues here given the current difficulties.
“I would also like to commend Ivan for the support he has shown in relation to a new ‘City Deal’ for Derry – not least by providing contacts of Labour Party colleagues in Manchester who have been involved in the City Deal process.”