John Hume speaking at Butcher Gate 1969.

‘He never gave up in the search for peace’

The family of John Hume have asked the people of Ireland to mirror the aspirations of the Nobel laureate by lighting a candle for peace to commemorate his passing.

In light of COVID-19 restrictions, the family are asking people, instead of lining roads and streets of Derry, to “light a candle for peace in their homes or at their door”.

The former SDLP leader will be laid to rest later today. He died on Monday aged 83 years. Yesterday (Tuesday) the removal of his remains travelled from Moville, Donegal, to the Cathedral of Saint Eugene, Derry, for 5pm.

In a statement Uachtarán na hÉireann Michael D. Higgins said the nation grieves the loss of a great man: “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.”

He commended the former SDLP leader’s inclusivity: “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.”

Immense contribution

As tributes pour in for “the man who built the peace process” one local TD added his voice to the chorus.

“I shared many platforms with John over the years and it was always a privilege, a delight to listen to his analysis of the political issues of the day and his steadfast belief in a better future,” Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith toldThe Anglo-Celtadding that John Hume made “an immense contribution to the establishment of peace on this island”.

“For decades John Hume worked relentlessly in advocating for peace. He convinced others of the disaster of violence and that communities working together would make a better country for all. In the most difficult of circumstances, he never gave up in the search for peace,” Deputy Smith said.

The Fianna Fáil representative acknowledged the all-embracing nature Mr Hume’s political views: “He rightly believed that democracy, respect for people of different views and basic civil rights for everybody was the way forward. In the midst of very dark days on this island he never wavered and his great common sense and political analysis reassured people in those difficult days.

“John Hume commanded enormous respect throughout Europe and in the United States and he brought that message of peace with great conviction to audiences way beyond our shores,” concluded Deputy Brendan Smith.

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.

Bishop Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry, will preside at the Mass and say the final words.

In addition, the Mass will be live-streamed on http://www.steugenescathedral.com/webcam.html

Pic above: John Hume speaking at Butcher Gate 1969.

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