Birmingham’s first Irish Lord Mayor Mike Nangle was described “a true Brummie, a trade unionist and a political activist” as scores of former colleagues and friends paid their last respects at his funeral on Tuesday.
Labour group leader Sir Albert Bore led tributes to the popular politician highlighting his qualities as a devoted family man, a campaigner for the city’s Irish community, an astute politician and a great friend.
St Joseph’s and St Helen’s RC Church in Kings Norton was packed with family, members of Birmingham’s political elite, Labour Party members, leaders of the city’s Irish Community and friends.
The Lord Mayor Michael Wilkes and five of his predecessors were also there to say farewell to one of their select group.
As well as being Lord Mayor, a local councillor, Irish welfare campaigner, trade union official and factory worker, Mr Nangle also spent 30 years as chairman of the Birmingham Branch of the Manchester United Supporters Club.
Sir Albert said: “We are here to say farewell to a person who we held in such great affection as a husband, a father, a former colleague and a friend.
“At times he was quite an unassuming man, but always capable of disarming the most hardened political opponent with a comment delivered with a touch of impish humour and a twinkle in his eye.”
Sir Albert said that many hundreds of former Lucas workers retained their pensions and redundancy payouts thanks to Mr Nangle’s efforts, as convenor for the GMB union, to stop the company taking money from the pension fund during the 1980s.
He was also a campaigner for the city’s Irish community and worked tirelessly to support the Irish Welfare Centre in Digbeth and was instrumental in bringing back the St Patrick’s Day Parade for the first time since the 1974 pub bombings.
His philosophy, according to Monsignor Daniel McHugh, was outlined in a meeting at St Anne’s Church in Digbeth as: “You must get involved in the local area, you must believe you can bring about change, that you can play a part in the regeneration of Digbeth and the Irish Quarter.”
He was born in Portadown in January 1933 and raised in Armagh, came to Birmingham in 1954. He met wife Margaret a year later while they worked at Lucas’s and they married in 1957. They have two children, Julian and Claire and two grandchildren.