Hilary Benn is appointed Secretary of State for Northern Ireland as part of a new UK Government

As part of Prime Minister Keir Starmer's new cabinet, Hilary Benn has been appointed Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. He had the Northern Ireland brief in the shadow cabinet since September 2023.
Image: House of Commons

Hilary Benn MP has been appointed as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland as part of Prime Minister Keir Starmer‘s new cabinet.

Labour has secured a huge majority in the House of Commons, winning over 400 seats, reducing the Conservatives to just 120 seats.

Keir Starmer was appointed Prime Minister earlier today and has already got to work appointing his cabinet.

Hilary Benn is the new Northern Ireland Secretary, replacing Chris Heaton-Harris who served in the role for just under two years after being appointed by Liz Truss, and he stayed in the job when Rishi Sunak took over.

Mr Benn was appointed the role in the shadow cabinet in September 2023 and has experience with Northern Ireland when he served as Chairman of the Brexit Select Committee.

He is no newcomer to serving in government. He was in cabinet positions in both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s governments, as Secretary of State for International Development, and Environment Secretary respectively.

He’s going to have a busy few days at the Northern Ireland Office with key decisions to make, such as funding for Casement Park.

Labour have already said they will repeal the Legacy Act introduced by the Tories, which all Northern Ireland parties opposed.

What does the Northern Ireland Office do?

The Northern Ireland Office is the Government department responsible for handling Northern Ireland affairs.

Based in London and Belfast, the NIO has specific responsibility for electoral law, human rights & equality, national security and the UK Government’s approach to legacy.

A Minister of State and a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State also work in the department to support the Secretary of State.

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