■ In a 1989 es­say, John Hume out­lined his phi­los­o­phy so he might win the sup­port needed to end ter­ror­ism.

John Hume, 1937-2020

Irish Examiner - - Front Page - ■ Re­pro­duced with the kind per­mis­sion of Pat Hume,

John Hume was, in the best sense of the word, an evan­ge­list. He be­lieved in peace and democ­racy and spent his life try­ing to con­vince oth­ers of the power of those ideas. In this 1989 piece, first pub­lished by the ‘Lon­don Re­view of Books’, he out­lined his phi­los­o­phy so he might win the sup­port needed to end ter­ror­ism. He suc­ceeded and to­day’s peace on this is­land is his legacy

In re­cent times in Ire­land we have been re­minded of a lot of an­niver­saries. Re­mem­ber­ing the past is some­thing of an ob­ses­sion here. The fu­ture, dis­cussing it or shap­ing it, doesn’t seem quite so pop­u­lar. De­ci­sions might have to be taken. Lead­er­ship might have to be given. Our at­ti­tude to the fu­ture is paral­ysed by our ob­ses­sion with the past. In­deed I have of­ten thought that our over-in­dul­gence in the past is a re­flec­tion of a much deeper weak­ness — our lack of the con­fi­dence to stand on our own feet, in our own time, with the ideas of our time, fac­ing the prob­lems of our time.

It is, of course, the voices of our ex­tremes which con­tin­u­ally in­voke the past un­der the guise not only of be­ing its true but of be­ing its only in­her­i­tors — the keep­ers of the holy grail — thus en­dow­ing them­selves with a sanc­tity of pur­pose which jus­ti­fies ev­ery­thing they say or do, no mat­ter how hor­rific.

One of the ironies is that th­ese ex­tremes are in many ways mir­ror-im­ages of one an­other. The lack of self-con­fi­dence ex­hib­ited in the ar­ro­gance of their rhetoric and ac­tions is only one of the com­mon ac­tors. We see it again in the de­mand, and the need, of each side to hold all power in their own hands, in the anx­i­ety to have po­lit­i­cal struc­tures made in the im­age of one tra­di­tion. It is ev­i­dent in the re­jec­tion of tol­er­ance and the need for dom­i­na­tion. It is vis­i­ble in the aban­don­ment of peace­ful pro­cesses. It is pro­claimed in at­ti­tudes that seek vic­tory and not ac­com­mo­da­tion. It is trum­peted by those who are so un­sure of their Ir­ish­ness that they need to re­mind us of it con­stantly. Their eyes mist over with self-right­eous emo­tion as they wave na­tional flags — their cher­ished pos­ses­sion. They don’t seem to no­tice that the real level of their re­spect is mea­sured by their paint­ing the flag on kerb­stones for ev­ery­one to tram­ple upon.

The Union­ist peo­ple have a long and strong tra­di­tion in Ire­land. They have a rich Protes­tant her­itage and a great pride in their tra­di­tion. They have pride in their ser­vice to the Crown, pride in their con­tri­bu­tion to the United States, in their spirit of in­dus­try and achieve­ment, in their work ethic and in their faith. Their spe­cial mett­tle is be­lieved by many of them to be ex­pressed in vic­to­ries in bat­tles long ago, bat­tles reg­u­larly com­mem­o­rated. But that pride is ex­pressed in an ar­chaic supremacis­m and in a des­per­ate fear that they could not sur­vive in ac­com­mo­da­tion with other tra­di­tions. They must live apart. Liv­ing apart may have been ac­cept­able as long as their hold on power was un­der­pinned by suc­ces­sive Bri­tish gov­er­ments: but that is no longer the case.

The fun­da­men­tal change that has taken place as a re­sult of the An­glo-Ir­ish Agree­ment is a change that is deeply and fully un­der­stood by ev­ery Union­ist. What it means is that their ex­clu­sive hold on power has gone and is not com­ing back. The power of veto on Bri­tish pol­icy which they have al­ways had, and which goes to the heart of our prob­lem here, has gone and is not com­ing back. The loss is un­com­fort­able for their lead­ers, for while they held that priv­i­leged po­si­tion they never had to be politi­cians or ex­er­cise the art of pol­i­tics, which is the art of rep­re­sent­ing one’s own view while treat­ing oth­ers with fair­ness.

For tra­di­tional Union­ism in North­ern Ire­land, other points of view have never ac­tu­ally ex­isted. To this day, as they boast about the pro­pos­als which they have placed be­fore the Bri­tish Gov­ern­ment about the fu­ture of North­ern Ire­land — the fu­ture of us all — the in­sult which their be­hav­iour rep­re­sents doesn’t seem to have oc­curred to them. Not only have they not pre­sented th­ese pro­pos­als to those of us who rep­re­sent other views – views which must be ac­com­mo­dated if we are to have a fu­ture: they haven’t even pub­lished them for the in­for­ma­tion of their own fol­low­ers. They are still oli­garchs. The faith­ful will line up when the drums beat. The other points of view, to which lip-ser­vice is pub­licly paid, don’t re­ally count.

How­ever painful and dif­fi­cult for them, their loss is in fact very healthy – not only for them but for the whole com­mu­nity. Mrs Thatcher has done for Union­ists what John Kennedy and Lyn­don John­son did for the whites of Alabama in the Six­ties. She has stripped them of as­cen­dancy and priv­i­lege, and in so do­ing has done a ser­vice to us all – by plac­ing us on a po­lit­i­cally equal foot­ing.

What Union­ists should un­der­stand, how­ever, is that the boot is not on the other foot. Our ex­pe­ri­ence has taught us too much for that. In ad­di­tion, and con­trary to what our po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents like to say, the An­glo-Ir­ish Agree­ment has con­ferred no spe­cial ben­e­fits on the SDLP. The chal­lenge to all of us is the same. When peo­ple who dif­fer share a piece of earth, they sit down and sort out their dif­fer­ences: that is what hap­pens in ev­ery sta­ble and peace­ful democ­racy in the world. We ei­ther take up that chal­lenge now, sit down with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the rest of this is­land, in the con­fi­dence that we can not only rep­re­sent but safe­guard our var­i­ous tra­di­tions, or we do not – and in­stead pass on this out­dated and costly quar­rel to the next gen­er­a­tion. If we do, it may well take us a long time. That should not hin­der us. The will­ing­ness to search for ac­com­mo­da­tion, and to stay with the search in spite of dif­fi­culty, must be supreme. We have a lot to con­quer. We have to over­come a legacy of the deep­est mis­trust, the se­quence of hurts and in­jus­tices piled high upon one an­other of which each sec­tion of our peo­ple has its own ra­bid tale to tell. But we should re­alise that those hurts, those in­jus­tices, in­deed our whole present sit­u­a­tion, are the symp­toms and the prod­uct of the at­ti­tudes which have brought about our present in­tol­er­a­ble so­ci­ety and which have failed to ad­dress a sim­ple yet fun­da­men­tal ques­tion: how do we share this is­land piece of earth to­gether, in a man­ner that gives supremacy to none? If we ad­dress that ques­tion to­day, we will trans­form the at­mos­phere through­out this is­land, and the good will to­wards us across the world where our wan­der­ing peo­ple have left such a mark will be over­whelm­ing.

Then there are those who are mir­ror im­ages of tra­di­tional Union­ism. They, too, be­lieve in ‘them­selves alone’ as the only an­swer to the prob­lem of a deeply-di­vided so­ci­ety, without the slight­est ac­knowl­edg­ment of any­one else’s ex­is­tence apart from the rit­ual ver­bal gen­u­flec­tions. Self-de­ter­mi­na­tion of the Ir­ish peo­ple is their ob­jec­tive, they say. The Ir­ish peo­ple are de­fined by them. To judge by their ac­tions and their con­tempt for the opin­ions of oth­ers, the Ir­ish peo­ple as de­fined by them are them­selves alone. They are more Ir­ish than the rest of us, they be­lieve. They are the pure Ir­ish mas­ter race. That deep-seated at­ti­tude, mar­ried to their method, is one of the hall­marks of undi­luted fas­cism. They have also the other hall­mark of the fas­cist – the need for a scape­goat: as they see it, the Brits are to blame for ev­ery­thing – even their own atroc­i­ties! They know bet­ter than the rest of us. They know so much bet­ter that they take unto them­selves the right, without con­sul­ta­tion, to dis­pense death and de­struc­tion. By de­stroy­ing Ire­land’s peo­ple, they de­stroy Ire­land.

I had dis­cus­sions with them re­cently. The talks were de­signed to ex­plore whether they were will­ing to lay down their arms and join the rest of the peo­ple of this is­land in the lengthy and dif­fi­cult search for peace based on real self-de­ter­mi­na­tion. I put some ques­tions to them about the price of their means and method, about the con­se­quence of vic­tory for their view­point, about peace­ful al­ter­na­tives which al­ready ex­ist. They replied with well-worn dec­la­ra­tions about na­tion­hood and the rights of the Ir­ish peo­ple to self-de­ter­mi­na­tion, while ig­nor­ing the sin­gle most self­evi­dent fact that strikes ev­ery hu­man be­ing in the world as they look in at Ire­land: the Ir­ish peo­ple are di­vided on that very ques­tion, the ques­tion of how to ex­er­cise self-de­ter­mi­na­tion.

For peo­ple who pro­claim their Ir­ish­ness and their pride in Ire­land so loudly they are re­mark­ably lack­ing in both the self-con­fi­dence and the guts to sit round and talk with their fel­low Ir­ish­men as a way of per­suad­ing them that this vi­sion of Ire­land is the best one. In par­tic­u­lar, their de­ci­sion to use guns and bombs to ‘per­suade’ their Protes­tant fel­low Ir­ish­men is not only an ex­treme in­stance of lack of faith in their own be­liefs or in the cred­i­bil­ity of th­ese be­liefs: it is an in­di­ca­tion of ap­palling moral cow­ardice and a deeply par­ti­tion­ist at­ti­tude. For its real ef­fect is to deepen the es­sen­tial di­vi­sions among the Ir­ish peo­ple. There is not a sin­gle in­jus­tice in North­ern Ire­land to­day that jus­ti­fies the tak­ing of a sin­gle hu­man life. What is more, the vast ma­jor­ity of the ma­jor in­jus­tices suf­fered not only by the Na­tion­al­ist com­mu­nity but by the whole com­mu­nity are di­rect con­se­quences of the IRA cam­paign. If I were to lead a civil rights cam­paign in North­ern Ire­land to­day, the main tar­get would be the IRA. It is they who carry out the great­est in­fringe­ments of hu­man and civil rights, with their mur­ders and bomb­ings, their ex­e­cu­tions without trial, their kneecap­pings and pun­ish­ment shoot­ings. The most fun­da­men­tal hu­man right is the right to life. Who in North­ern Ire­land takes the most hu­man lives?

Let the record speak. In the 21-year perod of the cur­rent trou­bles, 31% of those who have died were mem­bers of the se­cu­rity forces. Four­teen per cent were mem­bers of para­mil­i­tary or­gan­i­sa­tions. Fifty-five per cent were or­di­nary civil­ian men and women from both sec­tions of the com­mu­nity, 69% of them from the Catholic com­mu­nity and 31% from the Protes­tant. And who killed all those peo­ple? The sta­tis­tics are dev­as­tat­ing: 44% were killed by the Pro­vi­sional IRA and 18% by their fel­low-trav­el­ling ‘Repub­li­can’ paramil­i­taries. Twenty-seven per cent were killed by Loy­al­ists. Ten per cent by the Bri­tish Army. Two per cent were killed by the RUC and 0.28% by the UDR. In short, peo­ple de­scrib­ing them­selves as Ir­ish Repub­li­cans have killed six times as many hu­man be­ings as the Bri­tish Army, 30 times as many as the RUC and 250 times as many as the UDR.

And wait! One of their main claims is that they are the de­fend­ers of the Catholic com­mu­nity. Of the 1194 mem­bers of the Catholic com­mu­nity who died, 46% were killed by Loy­al­ist paramil­i­taries, 37% by peo­ple de­scrib­ing them­selves as Repub­li­cans and 17% by the se­cu­rity forces. And in the last 10 years since 1 Jan­uary 1978, of the 305 mem­bers of the Catholic com­mu­nity who have lost their lives, 112 (37%) have been killed by peo­ple de­scrib­ing them­selves as Repub­li­cans, 105 (34%) by Loy­al­ists and 88 (29%) by the se­cu­rity forces. In the last twenty years, Repub­li­cans have killed more than twice as many Catholics as the se­cu­rity forces and in the last ten years they have killed more than the Loy­al­ists. Some de­fend­ers! And I haven’t even men­tioned their ‘mis­takes’. Was it O’Casey who said: ‘The gun­men are not dy­ing for the peo­ple, the peo­ple are dy­ing for the gun­men’?

In ad­di­tion, all the ma­jor griev­ances to­day within the Na­tion­al­ist com­mu­nity are di­rect con­se­quences of the IRA cam­paign: the pres­ence of troops on our streets, the ha­rass­ment and search­ing of young peo­ple, wide­spread house searches, pris­ons full of young peo­ple, length­en­ing dole queues lead­ing to the em­i­gra­tion of many of our young peo­ple, check­points, emer­gency leg­is­la­tion ... If the cam­paign were to cease, th­ese griev­ances would dis­ap­pear. The troops would very soon be off our streets; they wouldn’t be ha­rass­ing young peo­ple or search­ing

houses. Check­points would van­ish, emer­gency leg­is­la­tion would be un­ec­es­sary. We could be­gin a ma­jor move­ment to empty our pris­ons, par­tic­u­larly of all those young peo­ple who were sucked into the ter­ri­ble sec­tar­ian con­flicts of the Seven­ties. And of course we could be­gin the se­ri­ous job of at­tract­ing in­ward in­vest­ment.

The strange irony, as they de­lib­er­ately refuse to recog­nise, is that the Bri­tish po­si­tion on Ire­land has shifted. As I have said be­fore, if the Bri­tish and Ar­gen­tine Gov­ern­ments were to an­nounce to­mor­row that they had signed an in­ter­na­tion­ally­bind­ing agree­ment, set­ting up a per­ma­nent An­glo-Ar­gen­tine Con­fer­ence, with a per­ma­nent sec­re­tar­iat in Port Stan­ley, to deal with the prob­lem of the Falk­lands/ Malv­inas, would the whole world not re­gard it as a sig­nif­i­cant shift? That is what has hap­pened here. The whole world has recog­nised it. The Union­ists recog­nised it. In prac­tice, this shift has meant the re­moval of the Union­ist veto on Bri­tish pol­icy, the re­moval of their ex­clu­sive hold on power. Ah but, say the Provos, the Bri­tish are here de­fend­ing their eco­nomic and strate­gic in­ter­ests and are keep­ing the peo­ple of Ire­land apart in or­der to do so. Hence our armed strug­gle is jus­ti­fied.

The Bri­tish have no eco­nomic in­ter­est in North­ern Ire­land any more. It costs them £1.5 bn per year. Bri­tish busi­ness can now lo­cate any­where in the Euro­pean com­mu­nity. What pos­si­ble strate­gic or mil­i­tary ad­van­tage is there in a nu­clear age for Bri­tain to have bases in Ire­land? They had been clos­ing them down steadily un­til the trou­bles be­gan. Po­lit­i­cally, the Gov­ern­ment’s of­fi­cial po­si­tion is that if the Ir­ish peo­ple want unity and in­de­pen­dence, and those who want it per­suade, not all, but some of those who don’t, thus cre­at­ing a ma­jor­ity in North­ern Ire­land, then they can have it. What sort of Ir­ish­man or Repub­li­can is it who will not take up that chal­lenge, but in­stead be­lieves that guns and bombs and the deaths of Ir­ish peo­ple are nec­es­sary in­stru­ments of per­sua­sion?

What sort of Ir­ish Repub­li­can is it who can ig­nore the fact that the meth­ods he is us­ing are bring­ing more suf­fer­ing on his own peo­ple? Would any gen­uine Ir­ish Repub­li­can — given the stark­ness of the sta­tis­tics I have out­lined – not re­con­sider his whole ap­proach and his means and method in par­tic­u­lar? The truth is, of course, that their method has be­come more sa­cred than their cause.

My chal­lenge to those peo­ple in Ire­land, North and South, who re­gard them­selves as Repub­li­cans is to ac­cept the straight­for­ward of­fer made to them in my talks with them. Lay down your arms once and for all. Join the rest of the peo­ple of Ire­land in the search for ways and means of break­ing down the bar­ri­ers with our Protes­tant fel­low-cit­i­zens, in per­suad­ing them to join us in build­ing a new Ire­land that re­flects our di­ver­sity, and in per­suad­ing the Bri­tish Gov­ern­ment to com­mit all its re­sources to the same end. If this were to hap­pen, then the at­mos­phere in this whole is­land, and in the North in par­tic­u­lar, would be trans­formed and the night­mare of all our peo­ple would be truly at an end.

Mean­while the An­gloIr­ish Agree­ment re­mains the tar­get of both Union­ist and Provo. I never cease to be amazed when I read some of the crit­ics of the Agree­ment. They don’t seem to have much un­der­stand­ing of what the Agree­ment ac­tu­ally is, or they sim­ply haven’t read it. The Treaty of Rome set up the Euro­pean Coun­cil of Min­is­ters to deal with the ques­tions re­ferred to is un­der the Treaty. It set up a sec­re­tar­iat, called a com­mis­sion, drawn from all coun­tries rep­re­sented in the Coun­cil, to ser­vice the Coun­cil. The Coun­cil meets reg­u­larly. It has open dis­agree­ments. Min­is­ters some­times even walk out. But no­body says the Treaty of Rome should be scrapped or is a fail­ure.

The An­glo-Ir­ish Con­fer­ence and Sec­re­tar­iat are mod­elled on the Euro­pean Coun­cil of Min­is­ters and Com­mis­sion. We have wit­nessed the same sort of hic­cups, and the same slow progress. But, as with Europe, the faults lie, not with the Agree­ment or its in­ten­tions, but with one or other of the gov­ern­ments who op­er­ate it. We should also re­mem­ber that one of the strengths of the ar­range­ment is that gov­ern­ments change and some will be more ac­tive than oth­ers, yet each can make its own dis­tinc­tive con­tri­bu­tion to the build­ing process.

When the Agree­ment was signed, we made clear that we in the SDLP saw the Agree­ment, and its in­stru­ment, the Con­fer­ence, not as a so­lu­tion, but as a means for deal­ing with the prob­lem on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. We also fore­saw that the ma­jor area of dif­fi­culty would be the ad­min­is­tra­tion of jus­tice. The past year has un­der­lined that view in a very sig­nif­i­cant way, with a se­ries of events that starkly demon­strate the deep gulf that ex­ists on this ques­tion – the Stalker-Samp­son af­fair, Pri­vate Thain, the McAne­spie Killing, Gi­bral­tar and its con­se­quences in Mill­town and the An­der­son­town Road, the so-called broad­cast­ing ban, the re­stric­tions on the right to si­lence, the Craigavon in­quests. Th­ese events have been ac­com­pa­nied, more­over, by a suc­ces­sion of ter­ri­ble IRA atroc­i­ties.

It has al­ways been our view that the bedrock of peace and or­der, the bedrock of jus­tice in ev­ery so­ci­ety, is con­sen­sus among the pop­u­la­tion on how it is gov­erned. When there is such a con­sen­sus, then jus­tice and or­der fol­low nat­u­rally – the po­lice are our po­lice and the courts are our courts. But when a so­ci­ety is di­vided, as ours is, on this fun­da­men­tal ques­tion, then ques­tions of courts and polic­ing be­come very di­vi­sive is­sues.

The best that any po­lit­i­cal party can do in those cir­cum­stances, and what we, through our spokes­men, have con­sis­tently done, is to of­fer full and un­qual­i­fied sup­port to the Po­lice Force in seek­ing out any­one who com­mits a crime. All we ask is that it be done im­par­tially within the rule of law. Given our ex­pe­ri­ence, that is hardly an un­rea­son­able qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

We have wel­comed the many ad­vances in deal­ing with the symp­toms of our deep-seated prob­lem that the Agree­ment has made pos­si­ble and we have listed them many times. We have also crit­i­cised, not only the fail­ure to ad­vance, but steps in the wrong di­rec­tion such as the re­cent pack­age of so­called tough ac­tion. But through all this we keep our eyes firmly fixed on the main pur­pose of the Agree­ment, which is to pro­vide the means for deal­ing with the un­der­ly­ing prob­lem or dis­ease which gives rise to all th­ese symp­toms. It is here that we be­lieve the Agree­ment has its great­est sig­nif­i­cance. It has re­moved the un­just Union­ist veto on Bri­tish pol­icy, re­moved their ex­clu­sive hold on power, and this time the Bri­tish Gov­ern­ment has not suc­cumbed to black­mail. By stand­ing firm, it has bro­ken through the vi­cious cir­cle which has paral­ysed all po­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. In the past, as in 1974, when Bri­tish gov­ern­ments backed down be­fore Union­ist threats, they con­firmed the lead­er­ship of Union­ism in the hands of the no-sur­ren­der, no-com­pro­mise brigade and re­in­forced the ba­sic ap­peal of the IRA, which was that the only thing the Bri­tish un­der­stand is force.

This time, that is not hap­pen­ing, and there is a new and fluid po­lit­i­cal sce­nario which opens up ma­jor op­por­tu­ni­ties for those who want so­lu­tions. But we still have too many who sim­ply want vic­tory for their point of view. When will they learn that they are not the peo­ple? Like our­selves, they rep­re­sent only a sec­tion of the peo­ple and all sec­tions have to be in­volved and ac­com­mo­dated in any so­lu­tions.

The next stage for those in­ter­ested in an­swers is ob­vi­ous. It has to be di­a­logue and dis­cus­sion which ad­dresses the prob­lem of our un­set­tled re­la­tion­ship. Let us call once again, there­fore, for a con­fer­ence ta­ble. Let the main sub­ject of dis­cus­sion be clear: how we share this is­land to our mu­tual sat­is­fac­tion. Let us also agree that any agree­ment reached would tran­scend in im­por­tance any pre­vi­ous agree­ment, be­cause it would ad­dress and set­tle a re­la­tion­ship which goes right to the heart of our quar­rel – the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the Union­ist peo­ple and the rest of the peo­ple of this is­land. And be­fore we ap­proach the con­fer­ence ta­ble, or agree its agenda, let us meet to talk about the mech­a­nisms whereby any such agree­ment is en­dorsed by the peo­ple, both North and South, so that there will be ab­so­lute re­as­sur­ance that sell-outs will be im­pos­si­ble and all tra­di­tions re­spected.

The door to such a con­fer­ence ta­ble should be open to ev­ery party with an elected man­date. In prac­tice, that means that ev­ery party sits down on the same terms, bring­ing noth­ing to the ta­ble but their own be­liefs and pow­ers of per­sua­sion. There should be no place for any party us­ing force, or re­serv­ing the right to use force if they do not get their way.

While we en­gage in all of this, 1992 looms. The com­ple­tion of the Sin­gle Mar­ket with free­dom of move­ment for peo­ple, goods and ser­vices, and the cre­ation of a com­mer­cial United States of Europe with a mar­ket of 320 mil­lion peo­ple, will have much greater im­pact on the daily lives of the peo­ple of this is­land than any of the other mat­ters which we spend most of our time dis­cussing. We should draw some lessons from that.

Forty-three years ago the Sec­ond World War ended. Europe was dev­as­tated, its ma­jor cities in chaos, mil­lions of its cit­i­zens dead. The bit­ter­ness be­tween an­cient foes, par­tic­u­larly France and Ger­many, was deeper than ever. If in that bleak land­scape some­one had fore­cast the Europe of the 80s, he would have been de­scribed as a fool or a dreamer. Yet it hap­pened — be­cause lead­ers had the vi­sion to sug­gest new ways. They recog­nised that if the peo­ples of Western Europe, with their deep dif­fer­ences and fears for their sur­vival, had cho­sen the wrong path to pro­tect th­ese dif­fer­ences, the re­sults would have been ru­inous for Europe as a whole.

Af­ter 1945, led by men of vi­sion, they tried a new way. They sat down with former en­e­mies to ham­mer out agreed in­sti­tu­tions which set­tled re­la­tion­ships and pre­served dif­fer­ences. No one would have be­lieved in 1945 that by 1992 they would be mov­ing to­wards the United States of Europe, with the Ger­mans still Ger­man and the French still French. One thing is cer­tain: they would never have achieved it had they con­tin­ued to dwell on the past and call up the ghosts of the past. That ap­proach would have led, as it al­ways had done and as it does in Ire­land, to con­flict in ev­ery gen­er­a­tion. Can we in Ire­land not learn the same les­son? Can we not sit down with former en­e­mies, with those whom we dis­trust, and ham­mer out in­sti­tu­tions which will set­tle our re­la­tion­ships and pre­serve our dif­fer­ences? Is it too much to ask that we in­vest in the fu­ture for a change? For we haven’t fin­ished with our an­niver­saries. Very sub­stan­tial ghosts of the past loom in the 300th an­niver­saries of 1689 and 1690 — the Siege of Derry and the Bat­tle of the Boyne. In ad­di­tion to our own lo­cal quar­rel, those dates com­mem­o­rate a wider and deeper Euro­pean quar­rel — a quar­rel, how­ever, that has long been laid to rest in Europe. So have sub­se­quent and more bit­ter ones. Will th­ese an­niver­saries re­in­force our spirit of con­fronta­tion, or will we com­mem­o­rate them as di­vi­sions of the past by lay­ing to rest the an­cient quar­rel that con­tin­ues to dis­fig­ure us as a peo­ple?

John Hume and Sea­mus Mal­lon out­side No 10 Down­ing Street in 2001.

Pic­ture: Wat­ford/Mir­ror­pix/Mir­ror­pix/Getty

John Hume sits by a by fire in an early morn­ing demon­stra­tion in Derry in Fe­bru­ary 1972.

Pic­ture: Daily Mir­ror/Mir­ror­pix//Getty

Left: John Hume ad­dresses the open air peace meet­ing in Derry af­ter vi­o­lence at the Ap­per­en­tice Boy Pa­rade on Au­gust 1, 1969.

John Hume is de­tained by sol­diers dur­ing a civil rights protest in Derry in 1971.

Pic­ture: Ea­mon Far­rell/RollingNew­s.ie

John Hume, Gar­ret FitzGer­ald, Charles Haughey, and DIck Spring, at the first meet­ing of the Ire­land Fo­rum at Le­in­ster House in 1983.

John Hume and Ian Pais­ley.

As a squad of hel­meted riot po­lice with shields move in to break up a mob of demon­stra­tors, John Hume steps into their path plead­ing with them not to use vi­o­lence in the cen­tre of Derry on April 21, 1969.

Pic­ture: Ea­monn Far­rell/RollingNew­s.ie

Hume and Gerry Adams at the Fo­rum for Peace and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion in Dublin Cas­tle in 1994.

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