Hume’s mes­sage was de­cep­tively sim­ple: noth­ing would be achieved by vi­o­lence

:: Adams pays trib­ute to ‘a gi­ant of Ir­ish pol­i­tics’

Irish Independent - - News | John Hume: 1937-2020 - Claire McNeilly and David Young

DAVID TRIM­BLE, who was jointly awarded the No­bel Peace Prize with John Hume, has said the for­mer SDLP leader’s “great­est gift to North­ern Ir­ish pol­i­tics” was the Good

Fri­day Agree­ment. They shared the honour in 1998 in recog­ni­tion of their ef­forts to find a peace­ful so­lu­tion to the North­ern Ire­land con­flict.

Mr Trim­ble, a for­mer North­ern Ire­land first min­is­ter, said Mr Hume has left a fit­ting legacy in his re­lent­less ad­vo­cacy for peace. “He was a politician who de­voted his life to deal­ing with the sit­u­a­tions that we have here,” Mr Trim­ble said.

“One of the im­por­tant things in that process was that from the very out­set of the Trou­bles, John was op­posed by those who wanted to achieve their means through vi­o­lence and in that sense he was firmly at­tached to non-vi­o­lence and to pur­su­ing one’s ob­jec­tives by nor­mal po­lit­i­cal means.

“And that was right from the out­set, and those prin­ci­ples are the prin­ci­ples of the Belfast Agree­ment.

“That is his great­est gift to North­ern Ir­ish pol­i­tics.”

Mr Trim­ble, who was leader of the Ul­ster Union­ist Party from 1995 to 2005, said the post-Good Fri­day Agree­ment era is a fit­ting tes­ta­ment to the po­lit­i­cal ti­tan that was Mr Hume.

“His legacy is there in terms of what has been achieved since 1998,” he said.

“Up un­til then there had been lots of ini­tia­tives and at­tempts to deal with our prob­lems, all of which failed to a greater or lesser ex­tent, and the one thing that did suc­ceed was the agree­ment of 1998.

“That agree­ment is still in ef­fect and it is the bedrock of the po­lit­i­cal pro­cesses we now deal with.

“That doesn’t mean that ev­ery­thing in the gar­den is rosy. There are dif­fi­cul­ties, there are ups and downs and that is part of po­lit­i­cal life, but that is his pri­mary achieve­ment and it’s some­thing

shared by all of those who were part of that process.”

Re­fer­ring to the No­bel Peace Prize, Mr Trim­ble told how they cel­e­brated to­gether af­ter ac­cept­ing the ac­co­lade.

“When we came back to the ho­tel af­ter the cer­e­mony we found that the ho­tel had as­sumed rightly that we would want to re­lax and to cel­e­brate the oc­ca­sion… but they thought that the SDLP would want to do it in one room and that we’d want to do it in an­other room,” Mr Trim­ble said.

“But we said, ‘No, we’re go­ing to re­lax to­gether’ – and I thought it was a very clear in­di­ca­tion about how we were go­ing to pro­ceed when it came to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the agree­ment.”

Mean­while, for­mer Sinn Féin pres­i­dent Gerry Adams de­scribed Mr Hume as a “gi­ant of Ir­ish pol­i­tics”. He con­ceded that the pair had “many dis­agree­ments”, but said they had been able to talk to “pro­mote the pri­macy of pol­i­tics”.

The duo had been in­volved in secret talks dur­ing some of the dark­est days of the Trou­bles, an ef­fort that has been cred­ited with bring­ing about the IRA cease­fire.

Mr Adams said that had it not been for Mr Hume, there would not be the peace there is to­day. And he de­scribed the peace process as Mr Hume’s “huge achieve­ment”.

“He was sin­gu­larly against the IRA,” Mr Adams said. “But he was a Derry man so he knew that repub­li­cans who were in­volved in armed strug­gle were serious, so the way to get at that wasn’t to have the stand-off that we had… when John bent his will, along with me and with oth­ers, to find an al­ter­na­tive way for­ward, that was what worked.”

Mr Adams said they met se­cretly for over a decade. “At the end of it all, it worked and it worked not least be­cause of John Hume, and many oth­ers.”

Mr Adams dis­missed the “lazy nar­ra­tive” that Mr Hume sac­ri­ficed the SDLP for the peace process. Sinn Féin went on to over­take the SDLP as the largest party rep­re­sent­ing na­tion­al­ism in the 2000s.

“I think there is a very lazy nar­ra­tive that John Hume sac­ri­ficed the SDLP, and that Sinn Féin were crafty and sneaky. That is not the case,” he said.

“The SDLP with­out John Hume just wasn’t fit for pur­pose for the chal­lenges that came up af­ter­wards and Sinn Féin was, and that’s as sim­ple and straight­for­ward as that.”

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