Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

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The Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is a member of the UK Shadow Cabinet responsible for the scrutiny of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and his department, the Northern Ireland Office. The post is currently held by Owen Smith, following a Shadow Cabinet reshuffle by leader Jeremy Corbyn. The holder is assisted by shadow ministers in the Commons and in the Lords.

Until recently there has been a 'bi-partisan' attitude to Northern Ireland affairs in the House of Commons but the role is influenced by the relationship between the main Official Opposition and parties in the province. Conservatives, for example, generally support the unionist cause and in 2008 reformalised a link with the Ulster Unionist Party, while Labour has traditionally supported Irish nationalism and is loosely allied to the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). The Liberal Democrats are linked with the cross-community Alliance Party.

Shadow Secretaries of State[edit]

Name Entered office Left office Political party Shadow Cabinet
Merlyn Rees No image.svg 24 March 1972 4 March 1974 Labour Harold Wilson
Francis Pym Zconcam61.jpg 4 March 1974 29 October 1974 Conservative  
Edward Heath
Ian Gilmour No image.svg 29 October 1974 18 February 1975 Conservative
Airey Neave
No image.svg 18 February 1975 30 March 1979 Conservative
Margaret Thatcher
Roy Mason No image.svg 4 May 1979 14 July 1979 Labour James Callaghan
Brynmor John No image.svg 14 July 1979 8 December 1980 Labour
Don Concannon No image.svg 8 December 1980 31 October 1983 Labour Michael Foot
Peter Archer No image.svg 31 October 1983 13 July 1987 Labour  
Neil Kinnock
Kevin McNamara
No image.svg 13 July 1987 20 October 1994 Labour
John Smith
Margaret Beckett
Mo Mowlam No image.svg 20 October 1994 2 May 1997 Labour Tony Blair
Andrew Mackay No image.svg 23 June 1997 14 September 2001 Conservative William Hague
Quentin Davies No image.svg 14 September 2001 11 November 2003 Conservative Iain Duncan Smith
David Lidington David Lidington eu minister 0c169 7669.jpg 11 November 2003 2 July 2007 Conservative Michael Howard
David Cameron
Owen Paterson Owen-Paterson.jpg 2 July 2007 11 May 2010 Conservative
Shaun Woodward Shaun Woodward, June 2009 cropped.jpg 11 May 2010 7 October 2011 Labour Harriet Harman
Ed Miliband
Vernon Coaker Vernon Coaker MP.jpg 7 October 2011 7 October 2013 Labour
Ivan Lewis Ivan Lewis 2.jpg 7 October 2013 13 September 2015 Labour
Harriet Harman
Vernon Coaker Vernon Coaker MP.jpg 13 September 2015 26 June 2016 Labour Jeremy Corbyn
Dave Anderson Dave Anderson.png 26 June 2016 14 June 2017 Labour
Owen Smith Official portrait of Owen Smith crop 2.jpg 14 June 2017 Incumbent Labour


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