The Notts MP working to heal wounds after years of hatred and violence
THE murals of Derry and Belfast, which depict the complexities of the Troubles in Northern Ireland seem a far cry from the suburban streets of Arnold and the village fetes of Gedling.
But actually, Notts MP Vernon Coaker, who spends his time divided between the two, claims they are often not as different as it might appear.
Since the Labour MP for Gedling started his role as Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland last October, there has been plenty to keep him busy.
Mr Coaker described the recent handshake between the Queen and the former IRA commander Martin McGuinness, who is now Deputy First Minister for Northern Ireland, as "hugely significant".
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And in March his role took him to Washington where he met President Obama.
Previously working as Minister of State for Policing, Security and Crime under the Labour Government, Mr Coaker is not a stranger to the more challenging issues in Northern Ireland. But he claims the role is really not all about security and policing.
People also want to talk to him about schools, health issues and roads, which are really devolved issues dealt with by the Northern Ireland Assembly.
And in that sense he says his time in Northern Ireland is not all that different to the time he spends in Gedling, where he is most Fridays to Sundays.
"There are some differences but we've got some of the same issues being raised," he said.
"People are really interested in it. Residents will ask how things are there, people will ask what was it is like with Martin McGuinness and the Queen."
Following the handshake, national media coverage suggested things in Northern Ireland have never been better.
"In Derry, or Londonderry, you've got lots of progress being made," said Mr Coaker.
"In particular the peace bridge that goes from one side of the river to the other, linking what had been communities separated by not only the river but also by different backgrounds, was hugely symbolic. It's incredibly different now to how it was, following the Good Friday agreement.
"It's massively better. Having said that there are still problems, yes there are, you only have to look to the parade held on July 12."
Tens of thousands of Orangemen and women took part in the annual Twelfth celebrations across Northern Ireland on July 12.
But it was not all peaceful and there were clashes including some between police and dissident Republican protesters.
Every year the Orange Order marches take place to celebrate the victory of Protestant William of Orange who seized the thrones of Catholic King James II in the Glorious Revolution of 1688.
One of the biggest challenges, Mr Coaker admits, is how to deal with the bloody past of the Troubles, before the country moves forward.
"There's still a big question about how to deal with some of the issues in the past," he said.
"The Northern Ireland Assembly asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to convene all parties to discuss how to deal with the past.
"He's not doing that and that's what I think we should do – bring everyone together, including victims.
"Northern Ireland is moving forward but these are still important issues. We have to make sure Northern Ireland is given the time it deserves for policy-making."
When Royal Bank of Scotland computers went down recently the problem took days longer to fix for Northern Ireland customers, who complained of feeling like "second-class citizens".
It is a challenging role, but one Mr Coaker has said he would love to continue as a Government Minister if Labour win the next election.
"It's been a fantastic time from me and a really interesting time but it's also about trying to make a difference as well as enjoying it.
"You need to work to try to make that difference.
"We need to continue to recognise the importance of decisions we make in Westminster in jobs, welfare, in business and the economy and how that impacts on Northern Ireland given the special circumstances that still exist there."
Mr Coaker says he is planning to visit every constituency in Northern Ireland and has already been to about 10.
"To that end I've met not just the MPs in Northern Ireland, the First Minister and Deputy First Minister but I've met with business leaders, community and resident organisations," he said.
"I've been overwhelmed by the friendliness of everyone there and how keen they are to meet with you."