Pres­i­dent Hig­gins leads trib­utes to Hume’s ‘per­sonal brav­ery and lead­er­ship’

Irish Independent - - News | John Hume: 1937-2020 - Philip Ryan

PRES­I­DENT Michael D Hig­gins led trib­utes to John Hume, say­ing we should all be “deeply grate­ful” for the “per­sonal brav­ery and lead­er­ship” the for­mer SDLP leader showed to bring about peace in North­ern Ire­land.

Pres­i­dent Hig­gins said Mr Hume “trans­formed and re­mod­elled” pol­i­tics in Ire­land and was in­formed by his “stead­fast be­lief in the prin­ci­ples and val­ues of gen­uine democ­racy”.

“There is a great­ness about his po­lit­i­cal life in what he did and what he helped to do,” the Pres­i­dent said. “I would put him in the same breath as Par­nell and Daniel O’Con­nell.”

Mr Hig­gins was among a num­ber of sig­nif­i­cant Ir­ish and in­ter­na­tional po­lit­i­cal fig­ures to pay their re­spects to the gi­ant of Ir­ish pol­i­tics.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said Mr Hume was a “great hero and a true peace-maker”.

“Through­out his long life he ex­hib­ited not just courage, but also for­ti­tude, cre­ativ­ity and an ut­ter con­vic­tion that democ­racy and hu­man rights must de­fine any mod­ern so­ci­ety,” the Taoiseach said.

“For over four decades, he was a pas­sion­ate ad­vo­cate for a gen­er­ous, out­ward-look­ing and all-en­com­pass­ing con­cept of na­tion­al­ism and re­pub­li­can­ism. For him, the pur­pose of pol­i­tics was to bring peo­ple

‘An ad­vo­cate for an all-en­com­pass­ing con­cept of na­tion­al­ism’

to­gether, not split them apart.”

Mr Martin said Mr Hume “kept hope alive” dur­ing para­mil­i­tary ter­ror­ism and sec­tar­ian strife.

Tá­naiste Leo Varad­kar said Mr Hume had left a “legacy of peace, progress and sta­bil­ity”.

“His unique abil­ity to bring peo­ple to­gether, to em­brace and re­spect each other’s dif­fer­ences with­out be­ing con­sumed by them, made him one of the most trans­for­ma­tional fig­ures to ever live north or south of the Bor­der,” Mr Varad­kar said.

For­mer Bri­tish prime min­is­ter Tony Blair, who was in Num­ber 10 when the Good Fri­day Agree­ment was signed, said Mr Hume was a “po­lit­i­cal ti­tan”.

“John Hume was a po­lit­i­cal ti­tan; a vi­sion­ary who re­fused to be­lieve the fu­ture had to be the same as the past,” he said.

“His con­tri­bu­tion to peace in North­ern Ire­land was epic and he will rightly be re­mem­bered for it. He was in­sis­tent it was pos­si­ble, tireless in pur­suit of it and end­lessly cre­ative in seek­ing ways of mak­ing it hap­pen,” he added.

Mr Blair con­tin­ued: “Be­yond

SDLP leader Colum East­wood said Mr Hume was “20th-cen­tury Ire­land’s most sig­nif­i­cant...po­lit­i­cal fig­ure”.

“It is no ex­ag­ger­a­tion to say that each and ev­ery one of us now lives in the Ire­land Hume imag­ined – an is­land at peace and free to de­cide its own des­tiny,” Mr East­wood said.

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDon­ald ex­pressed her con­do­lences to Mr Hume’s fam­ily on be­half of her party.

“It is with great sad­ness that I have learned this morn­ing of the pass­ing of John Hume,” she said.

that, he was a re­mark­able com­bi­na­tion of an open mind to the world and prac­ti­cal pol­i­tics. “In any place, in any party, any­where, he would have stood tall. It was good for­tune that he was born on the is­land of Ire­land.” For­mer US Se­na­tor Ge­orge Mitchell, who chaired the talks that led to the sign­ing of the Good Fri­day Agree­ment, de­scribed Mr Hume as a “fear­less leader” and a “dear friend”. “John Hume was one of the great­est per­sons in Ir­ish his­tory, an ad­vo­cate for and an ar­chi­tect of peace. He was Pres­i­dent Hig­gins said John Hume ‘trans­formed pol­i­tics’ rightly recog­nised as a fear­less leader who de­voted his life to the cause of peace in North­ern Ire­land.” U2 front­man Bono, a long­time friend of Mr Hume, de­scribed him as “the great­est ser­vant leader of them all”. For­mer Taoiseach John Bru­ton said Mr Hume was “the piv­otal fig­ure of the 20th cen­tury in the de­vel­op­ment of think­ing about Ire­land’s fu­ture”. “He re­framed the prob­lem from be­ing one about who held sovereignt­y over land, to be­ing one about peo­ple, and how they re­lated to one an­other.”

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