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EDITIONS
 Tuesday, 31 December, 2002, 15:15 GMT
Labour MP to retire after 36 years
Kevin McNamara, MP Hull North
Mr McNamara is one of the longest serving MPs
Kevin McNamara, the former Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary, has announced he is to stand down at the next general election.

Mr McNamara, 68, the Labour MP for Hull North, is one of the longest serving MPs in the Commons.

He was chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party's group on Northern Ireland in the 1970s and later became opposition spokesman from 1987 until 1994.

His interest in the future of Northern Ireland prevailed long after he left the post.

Mr McNamara achieved notoriety when he invited members of Sinn Fein into the House of Commons.

Left of party

But he was a strong believer in the democratic unification of Ireland, and also supported the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr McNamara was first elected in 1966.

He has always been on the left of the party - he had to resign as a Parliamentary Private Secretary in the first Wilson government after voting against a White Paper.

He rose to the frontbench ranks in the party, where he served for 13 years, while the party was in opposition.

He was a defence spokesman and, most successfully, a Shadow Opposition Spokesman for Northern Ireland.

Votes against government

He was succeeded by Mo Mowlam in 1995, who went on to become Northern Ireland Secretary after Labour came to power.

Mr McNamara resigned from the front bench soon after Ms Mowlam replaced him, in protest at Labour support for Tory policy in Northern Ireland.

He has voted against the Blair government on several occasions, over matters such as changes to incapacity benefit and the curtailment of the right to jury.

Before entering politics, McNamara was a law lecturer in Hull and head of the history department at St Mary's Grammar School, also in Hull.

See also:

03 Mar 00 | N Ireland
22 Oct 02 | Politics
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