A tribute by Archbishop George Stack
It is worthwhile to mourn the passing of Kevin McNamara, the former Member of Parliament for Hull North, a left of centre member of the Labour party and a committed Catholic. He died at the age of 82 on 6 August, the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.
Kevin McNamara drew his social and political principles from the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church – often called the Church’s best kept secret. He was a strong defender of the Trade Union movement and its work on behalf of all workers. He opposed nuclear weapons and took a strong line on human rights. He was much more than a man of the left. As a Catholic, he was an example in Parliament of one who allowed his religion clearly to influence his decision making. He opposed abortion, birth control and experimentation on human embryos. He also attended Mass daily at Westminster Cathedral. He was responsible for organising the first Catholic Mass in parliament almost twenty years ago, a practice which was controversial then but is now a weekly occurrence. Between 1987 and 1994, Kevin McNamara was the Labour party spokesman on Northern Ireland, keeping a delicate balance between challenging Protestant sectarianism and discrimination whilst keeping his distance from the IRA and Sinn Fein. In the year 2001 he declined the offer of a seat in the House of Lords and retired from political life.
Having known Kevin McNamara for a number of years, his death provides an opportunity to give thanks to God for all those parliamentarians in the Commons and in the Lords who work for the Common Good and carry a great burden of responsibility on our behalf in their public service. The presence of a significant number of Catholic MP’s at the weekly parliamentary Mass is an inspiring example.