Tributes paid to Paul Goggins

Paul Goggins

Tributes have been paid to Paul Goggins, the Labour Party MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East since 1997, who died on Monday after complications from a brain haemorrhage. He was 60.

His wife Wyn and three grown up children, Matthew, Theresa and Dominic, had been at his bedside since 30 December when he went into hospital after collapsing while out running.

In a statement, the family said: "We have been overwhelmed by the support and good wishes we have received from so many people - a real sign of love and a reflection of the sort of person Paul/Dad was."

"We would also like to thank the media for continuing to respect our privacy at such a difficult time."

Mr Goggins was born in Manchester and studied at St Bede's College, before entering the Roman Catholic seminary Ushaw College, but he did not become a priest. On his parliamentary website, he said of his experience with religion: "Religion played an important part in my upbringing and even at an early age I developed a strong sense of connection between faith and politics."

After studying children's care and social work in Birmingham and Manchester, he worked as a child care worker with the 'Liverpool Catholic Social Services' in 1974, and then became an officer in charge at the Wigan Children's Home in 1976. He was appointed project director for the National Children's Home - Action for Children in Salford in 1984.

His passion for social justice, fairness, and equality also saw him elected to Salford local council.

It was after his time there that he became the second national co-ordinator for the organisation Church Action on Poverty, holding the office from 1988 until his election to Parliament in 1997. During that time he oversaw the creation of the Churches' National Housing Coalition in 1991, a charity dedicated to providing resources to churches to enable them to help the homeless.  The coalition has since merged with the Catholic Housing Aid Society to form the charity Housing Justice.

He also organised the Local People National Voice initiative, which ran for three years and enabled many people in poverty to speak about the issues that affected them on a national scale.

Niall Cooper, Paul's successor and current Director of Church Action on Poverty, said: "Paul was a man of great personal warmth and deep conviction. His personal commitment to social justice and to championing the cause of people suffering from poverty and injustice both at home and abroad shone through in everything he did.  Paul will be missed hugely by all those who knew him personally or who were touched by his work.  Our deepest sympathies and prayers in particular are with Wyn and the family on their tragic loss."

Lewis Rose, Chair of Church Action on Poverty, said: "We very much appreciated Paul's contribution in Church Action on Poverty, and later in Parliament, to tackling the issues of poverty and injustice. Our thoughts are with Paul's family now."

In Parliament, Mr Goggins sat on the social security select committee from 1997 until he was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to John Denham, the Minister of State at the Department of Social Security in 1998. They both later moved to the Department of Health in 1999.

In 2000, he was appointed PPS to the Secretary of State for Education and Employment David Blunkett, and he remained Blunketts's PPS following the 2001 General Election in his new position as Home Secretary.

It is during this period that, according to Blunkett, Goggins was saddled with the nickname 'Mrs Goggins', which he got because of his name's connection to the popular children's television programme and book series, Postman Pat. The character of Mrs Goggins was a grey-haired little old lady who worked in the post office. Her catchphrase was "Ee, it's a bad job".

Speaking to the BBC in 2004, Mr Goggins said of his connection "My uncle Edmund Goggins was a teacher in Manchester and he knew John Cunliffe [the series creator].

"They were both teachers in the city and knew each other well… I think it highly unlikely he just made the name up from scratch, but took it from my uncle's name."

In 2003, he was made prisons and probation minister in the Home Office. Later he became the Under Secretary for State with responsibility for the voluntary and community sector. He forged links with various community and voluntary sector organisations such as the Association for Research in the Voluntary and Community Sector.

In May 2006, he was appointed as a junior minister at the Northern Ireland Office. He is the co-founder of the All Party Parliamentary Friends of CAFOD group and is Secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Group on poverty. He was a staunch supporter of the M.E.N's campaign to end child poverty.

In 2010 he sat on the Intelligence and Security Select committee.

His Christian faith did at times conflict with the wider Labour party's goals, and in 2013 he voted against both readings of the Same Sex Marriage Bill, despite widespread Labour support for the move.

In his spare time, he was also well known as a runner and fundraiser, and for his hard work fighting for compensation for the victims of asbestos-caused cancer, Mesothelioma.

He was also a member of the Christian Social Movement, and had spoken in several slots on BBC Radio 4's Thought for the Day.

Archbishop Peter Smith, Vice-President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference England and Wales, said: "Paul Goggins was a man of deep faith. His Catholic faith shaped and informed his passion and commitment to politics, and his lifelong vocation to social justice, combating poverty and exclusion. He was an outstanding servant of both Church and society, and his loss will be keenly felt. I will be praying for Paul and his family and I encourage others to do the same at this sad time."

Labour leader Ed Miliband was quoted in the Telegraph as saying: "Paul's family is devastated and heartbroken by his death. They are not alone. The Labour Party has lost one of its most dignified, humane, wise and loyal MPs.

"People from all sides of the House of Commons had the greatest affection, admiration, and genuine respect for Paul. We are deeply saddened by his passing."

He continued: "Paul was a man of deep faith whose commitment and strong values shone through everything he did. As a social worker, councillor, MP and Minister, attending to the needs of the most disadvantaged was always at the core of his particularly thoughtful and dedicated service. He was held in great affection by the people of Northern Ireland for his real understanding of the challenges they faced in the aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement."

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