Issued on: 03/08/2020 – 11:37
John Hume, the Northern Irish politician who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998 for his pivotal role in ending decades of violence in the British province, has died aged 83, his family announced Monday.
Hume, the former leader of the mainly Catholic Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), shared the Nobel with David Trimble of the Ulster Unionist Party after the pair helped forge the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement.
The landmark agreement was key to ending 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.
"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 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."
I never thought in terms of being a leader. I thought very simply in terms of helping people.
Nobel Laureate and former SDLP Leader John Hume passed away last night. We all live in the Ireland he imagined – at peace and free to decide our own destiny.
Thank you, John. pic.twitter.com/0yO5KWaTv7
— Social Democratic and Labour Party (@SDLPlive) August 3, 2020
Hume had been suffering from dementia and had been in the care of a nursing home in Londonderry, where he was born.
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.
Tributes poured in for Hume from across the political spectrum.
"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.
"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. His vision and tenacity saved this country," he said.
It is impossible to properly express the scale and significance of John Humes life. He was one of the towering figures of Irish public life of the last century. His vision and tenacity saved this country. We owe him and his wife Pat so much. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.
— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) August 3, 2020
Northern Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster, leader of the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party, called Hume "a giant in Irish nationalism".
"In our darkest days he recognised that violence was the wrong path (and) worked steadfastly to promote democratic politics," she added.
Hume's own party, the SDLP, said: "We all live in the Ireland he imagined — at peace and free to decide our own destiny."
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