Martin Flannery -2006

Martin Flannery Member of Parliament for Sheffield Hillsborough 1974 – 1992, died in October 2006 at the age of 88.

Martin was originally a primary school teacher, but he interrupted his career to volunteer for the army joining the Royal Scots. He returned to teaching once demobbed, eventually becoming headmaster of Crookesmoor junior school.

His early foray into politics was to join the Communist Party where he met and married his wife Blanche. He had issues over a number of matters but stayed with the Communists until 1956, when he felt he could take no more after Hungary and the Krushchev revelations on Stalinism.

Martin joined the Labour Party almost immediately afterwards, and by 1968 was the President of the Constituency. The first of two general elections in 1974 saw him become the local MP. Once in the Commons he became an active member of the Tribune group and was a prominent rebel, leading the votes against on spending cuts and income policy. He moved on to the more hard left Campaign Group as he found Tribune insufficiently Socialist. He was renowned for his ability to put down those who irritated him. Dennis Skinner recalls a time when one “pompous Tory” was “blathering on and on,“ Flannery remarked, “The Right Honourable Member could strut sitting down.”

Northern Ireland mattered a great deal to him. He was Chair of the PLP Backbench Committee for many years and spoke in all the Irish and terrorism debates. In 1984 he led a Labour delegation to Ulster which resulted in a shift in his own tacit support for the ‘troops out’ campaign. This change of heart was controversial and led to an attempt to stop support for his nomination to continue as Chair of the Labour Committee.

He stood down from Parliament in 1992. He is survived by his wife Blanche, a son and two daughters.