Clin­ton: ‘I ad­mired and liked him. I loved be­ing with him’

:: For­mer US pres­i­dent was in awe of Hume’s de­vo­tion to peace

Irish Independent - - News | John Hume: 1937-2020 - Al­li­son Bray

BILL CLIN­TON has paid a pas­sion­ate trib­ute to John Hume. The for­mer US Pres­i­dent lauded him for not only be­ing a re­mark­able states­man and hu­man be­ing, but a man whose en­dur­ing legacy of the North­ern Ire­land peace process has helped heal po­lit­i­cal rifts across the globe.

Mr Clin­ton de­scribed Mr Hume as “a re­mark­able man” whose ab­sence from the world stage in re­cent years af­ter he was di­ag­nosed with de­men­tia has not gone un­no­ticed.

“He was a re­mark­able man who could have been very valu­able to the world at full steam over the last two or three years, when all over the world peo­ple were cel­e­brat­ing di­vi­sive char­ac­ters. Peo­ple who treated their po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents as less than hu­man and had no re­spect for any­body else and seemed to be re­warded for it in cer­tain cir­cles,” he said.

“John was the very op­po­site of that.

“He was a de­ter­mined ad­vo­cate for peace in North­ern Ire­land but he would deal with any­one who was duly elected and try to win them over,” said Mr Clin­ton on RTÉ Ra­dio One’s ‘Driv­e­time’.

“He be­came a friend. You couldn’t help but be friendly with him. It was easy be­cause I shared his goals, we wanted to get to a peace agree­ment, but I also ap­pre­ci­ated the fact that he had fought too long and hard and still man­aged to be a real per­son with a real life.

“I just ad­mired him and I liked him and he was good com­pany. I loved be­ing with him.”

Along with cred­it­ing the for­mer SDLP leader and No­bel Lau­re­ate for “giv­ing the chil­dren of North­ern Ire­land a peace­ful fu­ture”, Mr Clin­ton de­scribed Mr Hume as some­one whose coun­sel he could rely on when the US first got in­volved in the North­ern Ire­land peace process.

“Ev­ery time I saw him I felt this great tide of ad­mi­ra­tion and af­fec­tion and en­joy­ment of his com­pany, but it also in­spired me to just keep go­ing,” he said of the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

“I thought, ‘We need to do this’. This is the face that the Ir­ish present to the world. I al­ways thought the North would be bet­ter off get­ting along than con­tin­u­ing to fight, and I still be­lieve that.”

Mr Clin­ton also said that it was Mr Hume who en­cour­aged him to take ‘a leap of faith’ when the US con­tro­ver­sially is­sued for­mer Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams with a visa to visit the US.

“He was al­ways above the fray in a way but he sure knew when to get in­volved. I took all that heat for giv­ing Gerry Adams a visa, you re­mem­ber, but he thought it was time,” he said.

“He (Mr Hume) said, ‘I think it’s worth the risk’. He said it may not work out but I think you ought to do it.

“Now, that had a real im­pact on me be­cause at the time the then-Bri­tish govern­ment was go­ing crazy, my own State Depart­ment was against it and I thought, ‘Here’s John Hume who has stood up for non-vi­o­lence through­out the en­tire length of the Trou­bles, say­ing it’s time to take a leap of faith’.”

The for­mer US Pres­i­dent said the model used dur­ing the peace process had been a suc­cess­ful tem­plate used by the US in bro­ker­ing peace in other trou­bled spots around the world.

“It was ba­si­cally a roadmap that could be adapted vir­tu­ally ev­ery­where,” he said.

“I thought this is what we ought to try to do, some ver­sion of this in all of these other trou­bled places around the world, and I still be­lieve that.”

Af­fec­tion: Bill Clin­ton paid a warm trib­ute to John Hume

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