03 Aug John Hume: Former SDLP leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner dies | UK News
Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume, “the architect of the Northern Ireland peace process”, has died.
The former leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) had been ill for some time.
Having committed his life to the pursuit of Irish unity by peaceful means, he was fiercely criticised for holding secret talks with Gerry Adams.
But in 1993, Hume persuaded the British and Irish governments that the gun could be taken out of Irish politics.
When the IRA declared its ceasefire the following year, Sinn Fein were brought in from the political cold.
It was the beginning of a peace process that would culminate in the Good Friday Agreement and power-sharing government at Stormont.
In 1998, John Hume and his Unionist counterpart David Trimble were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace.
Speaking at the award ceremony in Oslo, Hume said: “I want to see Ireland as an example to men and women everywhere of what can be achieved by living for ideals rather than fighting or dying for them.”
In a statement, Mr Hume’s family said: “We are deeply saddened to announce that John passed away peacefully in the early hours of the morning after a short illness.
“We would like to extend our deepest and heartfelt thanks to the care and nursing staff of Owen Mor nursing home in Derry.
“The care they have shown John in the last months of his life has been exceptional.”
They added: “John was a husband, a father, a grandfather, a great grandfather and a brother. He was very much loved, and his loss will be deeply felt by all his extended family.
“It seems particularly apt for these strange and fearful days to remember the phrase that gave hope to John and so many of us through dark times: we shall overcome.”
Author and journalist Eamonn Mallie, who knew him well, said: “Hume was driven by one thing – a passion for peace. He hated that violence. He resented that violence.
“At every conference, constant at the northern star, Hume spelled out, underscored, amplified, the grotesqueness of what the IRA were doing.”
John Hume had come to prominence during the civil rights movement in his native Derry.
An MP for 22 years, an MEP for 25, he became a towering figure in the Anglo-Irish politics of the 20th century.
Former US president Bill Clinton described him as “the Martin Luther King of Northern Ireland.”
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood MLA said: “His legacy is Ireland at peace with itself. His legacy is the ending of 800 years of history and allowing us now to achieve all sorts of possibilities.
“We’re no longer fighting with each other and there’s no prospect that we will in the future.
“We’re at peace, we have a democratic opportunity to set our own future. John Hume did that.”