Stewart Dickson MLA said: “I would like to acknowledge and pay tribute to the excellent work that Vernon has carried out during his time in Northern Ireland. He was genuinely interested in his brief and went the extra mile to get to know the issues and the people here.
“On a personal note, I would like to thank him for the support he gave me last year after my constituency office was burnt down during the flags protests.
“He was a staunch supporter of the power sharing institutions and encouraged all sides to respect the rule of law during recent trouble. He was a good friend of Northern Ireland. I look forward to working with his successor Ivan Lewis.
“I would also like to wish the outgoing Northern Ireland Office Minister of State Mike Penning all the best and welcome his successor Andrew Robathan.”