THE MAN WITH THE PLAN
Featuring interviews with the likes of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, Maurice Fitzpatrick’s excellent new documentary, In The Name Of Peace, explores John Hume’s fundamental role in the Irish peace process.
John Hume’s career these days tends to be readily summarised with the various accolades he’s picked up in the last 20 years, including the Nobel Prize and the Gandhi Peace Award. However, commentators on Irish politics run the risk of knowing about John Hume’s influence on the Northern peace process, without having a clue what he did to achieve it. Which is why Maurice Fitzpatrick’s new film, In The Name Of Peace: John Hume In America – and its accompanying book From Derry To DC – are so welcome.
“This all began in earnest in 2012,” says Maurice, sitting in the Library Bar in Dublin. “I was in DC and I began to reach out to people in Congress, and made it clear that I wanted to make this film. I also spoke to Pat Hume, John’s wife, and got her approval.”
Having previously filmed The Boys Of St. Columb’s – a documentary tracing the lives of great Irish figures like Seamus Heaney, John Hume and Eamonn McCann who attended the same small school in Derry – Maurice felt that John Hume’s legacy was badly understood.
“Looking at recent Northern Ireland history,” he says,
“there’s a tendency to highlight the 1990s and suggest that a great deal of peace work suddenly sprang up during that period. But Bill Clinton would be the first person to tell you that the build-up of a well-mobilised Congress, which was committed to peace in Ireland, actually happened decades earlier.
“Successive American administrations, from Carter to
Reagan and onwards, had all consolidated fresh initiatives on Ireland, which Hume had a hand in. That shifted the balance considerably.”
Is the vision of John Hume missing in Northern politics today?
“If there are visionaries in Northern Ireland today, I haven’t seen them,” he replies. “But apart from visionaries, what is really required in Northern Ireland is dedicated politicians. I think we have the opposite at the moment. We have politicians who are, for a variety of different motives, pulling back from the process. So in that sense, the historical vision that Hume had is lacking.”
In the Name Of Peace: John Hume In America is in cinemas now. John Hume In America: From Derry To DC is also out now, published by Merrion Press.