From sem­i­nar­ian to the ar­chi­tect of the peace process

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

:: Born Jan­uary 18, 1937, in Derry, a city di­vided by poverty and re­li­gious dis­crim­i­na­tion.

:: He went on to be­come an in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­knowl­edged hu­man rights and peace cam­paigner, was the No­bel Peace Prize win­ner in 1998, and was named “Ire­land’s Great­est Per­son” by pop­u­lar vote on RTÉ tele­vi­sion in 2010.

:: Ed­u­cated in St Columb’s Col­lege, Derry, and Maynooth, Co Kil­dare, where he aban­doned stud­ies for the Catholic priest­hood. Be­came a teacher of his­tory and French and a com­mu­nity ac­tivist in Derry.

:: Mar­ried wife Pat, also a teacher, in 1960. They had five chil­dren.

:: Orig­i­nally ac­tive in the credit union move­ment and on hous­ing, fight­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion against na­tion­al­ists. An early ac­tivist in the North­ern Ire­land Civil Rights As­so­ci­a­tion.

:: A life-long pro­po­nent of peace­ful protest, he crit­i­cised the old Na­tion­al­ist Party’s fail­ure to prop­erly rep­re­sent the Catholic mi­nor­ity.

:: Elected to the North­ern Ire­land par­lia­ment in 1969. In 1970, he helped found the So­cial Demo­cratic and Labour Party (SDLP), seek­ing jus­tice via non­vi­o­lent ac­tion.

:: Briefly Com­merce Min­is­ter in 1974 in the power-shar­ing govern­ment set up un­der the 1973 Sun­ning­dale Agree­ment and smashed by Loy­al­ist trade unions.

:: From 1972 on­wards he be­gan suc­cess­fully forg­ing longterm links with key Ir­ish-US politi­cians, no­tably Sen­a­tors Ted Kennedy and US House speaker Tip O’Neill. These peo­ple even­tu­ally ex­erted big in­flu­ence in Lon­don on North­ern Ire­land is­sues.

:: Elected to the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment in 1979, he be­came an in­creas­ingly in­flu­en­tial fig­ure in Dublin, Lon­don, Brus­sels and Wash­ing­ton. He also took over lead­er­ship of the SDLP.

:: As­so­ci­ated with the New Ire­land Fo­rum in 1984 which led on to the 1985 An­glo-Ir­ish Agree­ment.

:: In the early 1990s, he be­gan con­tro­ver­sial talks with Sinn Féin and the IRA via Gerry Adams. He faced crit­i­cism on all sides and long pe­ri­ods of doubt. But they yielded an IRA cease­fire in 1994 and the Good Fri­day Agree­ment in 1998.

:: In 2001, he turned down an op­por­tu­nity to be­come North­ern Ire­land deputy first min­is­ter and re­tired in 2004. In re­cent years he suf­fered poor health.


Clockwise from left: John Hume with his wife Pat at the fu­neral of Martin McGuin­ness; with Nel­son Man­dela in 2000; at a press con­fer­ence in Dublin in 1981; in his na­tive Derry city; and mak­ing his No­bel speech dur­ing the awards cer­e­mony in Oslo, Nor­way, in 1998.

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