Monday, 22 March 2010

A GOOD MAN

I was very saddened to hear that Mike Nangle has died. A former bus conductor and union activist, Mike was a Labour councilor for 23 years, serving with distinction in that time as a Chair of Housing and Lord Mayor. I was always fond of him. It was not uncommon after I made my points in the Council Chamber that Mike, with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes, would offer a word or two of encouragement in a soft northern Irish lilt.
I think Mike probably knew a thing or two about what it feels like to be regarded as an outsider. He experienced first hand the terrible backlash the Irish community suffered in the aftermath of the Birmingham Pub Bombings. In an interview with the Birmingham Post he gave a flavor of what that felt like, describing the canteen in his place of work becoming segregated between English and Irish. Mike went on to be the city’s first Irish Lord Mayor and played a pivotal role in bringing the great St Patrick’s Day Parade back on to the streets of Birmingham.  It had been suspended for over 25 years after the bombing. Mike helped to heal deep community wounds and he worked selflessly for his constituents.

The Council Chamber was a lesser place when Mike departed in 2007. And this city is a lesser place today for his passing.

To his family, friends and colleagues, I offer my sincere condolences and sympathy.