Man of peace... former SDLP leader and Nobel laureate John Hume has died

John Hume, the former SDLP leader and Nobel laureate and one of the architects of the peace process has died.

Born in County Derry in January 1937, he was regarded as one of the most important figures in recent Irish political history who stayed at the forefront of forging peace in Northern Ireland.

In a statement released this morning, the SDLP said: "We are deeply saddened to announce that John passed away peacefully in the early hours of the morning after a short illness.

"We would like to extend our deepest and heartfelt thanks to the care and nursing staff of Owen Mor nursing home in Derry. The care they have shown John in the last months of his life has been exceptional.

"As a family, we are unfailingly inspired by the professionalism, compassion, and love they have shown to John and all those under their care.

"We can never adequately show them our thanks for looking after John at a time when we could not. The family drew great comfort in being with John again in the last days of his life."

In 1998, Mr Hume and then UUP leader David Trimble were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to end violence in Northern Ireland.

In a statement President Michael D Higgins said:

“All of those who sought and worked for peace on our island of Ireland, and in the hearts of all, will have been deeply saddened by the passing of John Hume, Nobel Peace Laureate and Statesman.

"John Hume, through his words, his astute diplomacy and willingness to listen to what was often difficult to accept but was the view of the ‘Other’, transformed and remodelled politics in Ireland, and the search for peace, with a personal bravery and leadership informed by a steadfast belief in the principles and values of genuine democracy.

"John’s deep commitment to these values and his practical demonstration of tolerance and social justice, oftentimes in the face of strong opposition and tangible threats to his person and his family, asserted the fundamental principles of democracy. He and those others who helped usher in a discourse that enabled a new era of civil rights and responsive government that few would have thought possible, have placed generations in their debt, have been a source of hope.

"That his efforts were recognised through the awarding of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize brought great joy not only to his people in Derry, his colleagues in politics, particularly in the SDLP, but to a wider global set of colleagues and fellow advocates for peace abroad who held him in the greatest esteem and admiration.

"Mar Uachtarán na hÉireann, as President of Ireland, may I say how deeply grateful we all should be that we had such a person as John Hume to create a light of hope in the most difficult of times.

"It was Seamus Mallon, that other great statesman and courageous peace seeker and builder, who observed: “Inside was a man who had something big to do. There is a greatness about his political life in what he did and what he helped to do. I would put him in the same breath as Parnell and Daniel O Connell.”

"We are grieving in this difficult year 2020 for two great apostles and seekers of peace.

"Whatever the loss to all on this island, to his family his loss is greatest. To his wife Pat, his children, and all those who loved him, Sabina and I send our deepest sympathy.

Siochán siorraí le a anam.”

Tomorrow (Tuesday 4th ), the removal of the remains of the late John Hume RIP will, along with the cortège, will leave Moville, Co Donegal, to the Cathedral of Saint Eugene, Derry, for 5.00pm with the Funeral Mass taking place at 11.30am on Wednesday 5 August, 2020. Father Paul Farren, Administrator of the Cathedral, will be the celebrant for the Mass and he will preach the homily. Bishop Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry, will preside at the Mass and say the final words.

In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, and in accordance with public health guidance, social distancing will be strictly observed within the cathedral and on its grounds. The Funeral Mass will be broadcast at 11.30am on RTÉ One and also televised on RTÉ News Now, and on its online and digital platforms.

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