Former Northern Ireland secretary Roy Mason dies aged 91

Labour MP’s spell in North marked by toughening of security response to IRA terrorism

Former UK Labour cabinet minister Roy Mason, who served as Northern Ireland secretary at the height of the Troubles, has died aged 91. Photograph: PA Wire.

Former UK Labour cabinet minister Roy Mason, who served as Northern Ireland secretary at the height of the Troubles, has died aged 91. Photograph: PA Wire.

 

Former UK Labour cabinet minister Roy Mason, who served as Northern Ireland secretary at the height of the Troubles, has died aged 91.

Dan Jarvis, Labour’s election candidate in Lord Mason’s former constituency of Barnsley Central, said he was a “giant of the Labour movement”.

A former miner, he held a series of ministerial posts in the Labour governments of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan, including defence secretary and president of the board of trade.

In 1976 he was made Northern Ireland secretary - a post he held until Labour lost power in 1979. His time in office was marked by a toughening of the security response to the issue of IRA terrorism.

Following his retirement as an MP at the 1987 general election, he was created a life peer.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said he had made a “huge contribution” to British political life.

“He passionately believed in the power of politics to change people’s lives and spent his whole life trying to improve the lives of working people, none more so than his constituents in Barnsley,” he said.

“Roy was a formidable man with a deep passion for social justice. He never forgot where he came from, and was a true champion of equality and fairness.”

Mr Jarvis said: “Roy was a formidable man, a pillar of our community and a giant of the Labour movement. He began his working life going down a mine at the age of just 14.

“His incredible journey and the courage and conviction with which he served the public are testament to the values that Roy fought for all his life — fairness, social justice and opportunity for all.”

PA