Northern Ireland

Labour Party: Dave Anderson appointed shadow Northern Ireland secretary

Dave Anderson Image copyright Gus Campbell
Image caption Dave Anderson "cares passionately" about Northern Ireland, according to Ian Paisley

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has reshuffled his shadow cabinet and appointed MP Dave Anderson as shadow Northern Ireland secretary.

Mr Anderson replaces Vernon Coaker, who resigned in protest at Mr Corbyn's leadership.

Mr Coaker, who had two spells in the shadow Northern Ireland role, stepped down on Sunday.

In a letter to Mr Corbyn, he said it was "time for the party to unite behind a new leader".

He said a new leader would "ensure our MPs can serve the whole of the electorate as that effective opposition".

Familiar

Aged 62, Dave Anderson was first elected to parliament in 2005 and has a track record in the trade union movement.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Vernon Coaker, telling Jeremy Corbyn it was "time for the party to unite behind a new leader"

A former coal miner and care worker, he is an honorary life member of the Unison union.

He has an interest in Northern Ireland matters and up until last year served as a member of the Northern Ireland affairs committee.

Dave Anderson told the BBC: "I'm delighted and proud to be asked to serve in this capacity by my leader.

"I have had long and fruitful experience of working with Irish colleagues for many years in the trade union movement and since coming into Parliament in 2005.

"I will be looking to all of those with whom I have worked across communities and borders to play my small part in facing up to the ongoing challenges facing us in these turbulent times"

Mr Anderson will be familiar with the Northern Ireland political agenda and is on first-name terms with leading politicians in all the main parties.

On his website, he listed one of his achievements as "playing a small part in moving the peace process forward in Northern Ireland - something in which I have been involved for many years, before becoming an MP".

Cares

Mr Anderson represents the Blaydon constituency in the north-east of England, and during his time in parliament he has regularly raised issues such as trade union matters, workers' rights and the funding of public services.

A Labour whip in the House of Commons, he is seen as coming from the traditional left-wing section of the party.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Jeremy Corbyn is facing a vote of no confidence from Labour MPs

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MP Ian Paisley, who worked with Mr Anderson on the Northern Ireland affairs committee, said he "cares passionately" about the region.

Social Democratic and Labour Party MP Margaret Ritchie, who was sad to see Mr Coaker depart, described the move as a "good appointment".

She said Mr Anderson had a long-term track record with Northern Ireland, particularly when it came to trade union matters.

Workload

DUP Strangford MP Jim Shannon described the Mr Anderson as "very affable", and said in the past there were "many things we agreed on and worked together on".

Away from politics, Mr Anderson is a big music and football fan who says he relaxes by staying at his caravan and walking his dog.

However, as a key member of the shadow cabinet, such moments of relaxation may be about to disappear.

His workload just got greater, and in the coming weeks he will have to divide his time between his constituency, the House of Commons, and now Northern Ireland.

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