John Hume, Northern Ireland peace accord architect, dead at 83

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Tributes poured in for Hume from across the political spectrum. Get Breaking News Delivered to Your Inbox

“We are deeply saddened to announce that John passed away peacefully in the early hours of the morning after a short illness,” Hume’s family said in a statement. “John Hume was a political titan; a visionary who refused to believe the future had to be the same as the past,” said former British prime minister Tony Blair, who helped craft the Good Friday Agreement. Hume’s family said his funeral would be arranged in accordance with current government regulations severely limiting the number of attendees due to the risk of spreading coronavirus. John Hume, who helped forge Northern Ireland peace accord, has died at 83

August 3, 2020 / 7:33 AM
/ AFP

London — John Hume, the politician from Northern Ireland who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998 for his pivotal role in ending decades of violence in the British province, has died at the age of 83, his family announced Monday. 

Hume, the former leader of the mainly Catholic Social Democratic and Labor Party (SDLP), shared the Nobel with David Trimble of the Ulster Unionist Party after the pair helped forge the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement. First published on August 3, 2020 / 5:14 AM “His contribution to peace in Northern Ireland was epic and he will rightly be remembered for it.” Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said it was “impossible to properly express the scale and significance of John Hume’s life.””He was one of the towering figures of Irish public life of the last century. British Prime Minister Tony Blair is at center. “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 for them, and by viewing each and every person as worthy of respect and honor.”

Hume resigned as leader of the SDLP in 2001, citing ill health. He was very much loved, and his loss will be deeply felt by all his extended family.”

John Hume, MP & MEP, prior to the the friendly match between Derry City and Barcelona at the Brandywell Stadium in Derry in August 2003. He was elected to Northern Ireland’s parliament as an independent lawmaker, becoming a founding member of the SDLP in 1970, before serving as a member of the European Parliament and then Britain’s House of Commons. His vision and tenacity saved this country,” he said. David Maher/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Hume had been suffering from dementia and had been in a nursing home in Londonderry, where he was born. As the province’s peace process began to progress in the 1990s with several ceasefires by the Irish Republic Army (IRA) paramilitary group, Hume worked to engage US politicians, notably Bill Clinton. It helped end three decades of bloody strife in Northern Ireland between the largely Catholic nationalist community who want to reunify with Ireland and Protestant unionists who want to remain part of Britain. AP

Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster, leader of the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party, called Hume “a giant in Irish nationalism”. The 1998 Nobel Peace Prize was split between John Hume, a moderate Catholic leader, and David Trimble, leader of the Protestant Ulster Unionists, for their efforts to bring peace to Northern Ireland. Trimble is pictured at left shaking hands with Hume on the eve of the Northern Ireland Referendum, May 21, 1998. “We realize this will mean that many will be unable to join us, and we will arrange a memorial service and a celebration of his life in due course,” they said. “In our darkest days he recognized that violence was the wrong path (and) worked steadfastly to promote democratic politics,” she added. John was a husband, a father, a grandfather, a great-grandfather and a brother. A consistently moderate voice during a conflict that killed almost 3,600 people, he helped lead the cross-community peace process that culminated in the landmark 1998 deal reached by Belfast, Dublin and London. “The answer to difference is to respect it,” Hume summarized in his Nobel acceptance speech in December 1998. Hume’s own party, the SDLP, said: “We all live in the Ireland he imagined — at peace and free to decide our own destiny.” Born in the Northern Irish city and republican stronghold of Londonderry in 1937, Hume joined the province’s civil rights movement in the late 1960s as Catholics demanded equality in housing, voting and other issues.