Northern Ireland

John Hume, SDLP, receives papal honour in Londonderry

John Hume receives the honour from Bishop Edward Daly
Image caption John Hume receives the honour from retired Bishop of Derry Edward Daly

Former SDLP leader John Hume has received his papal knighthood at a special Mass in Londonderry.

In June, it was announced that Mr Hume was to be made a Knight Commander of St Gregory by Pope Benedict.

The honour comes more than 13 years after Mr Hume was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his work during the Troubles.

Mr Hume said he felt very honoured by the knighthood, which was presented at St Eugene's Cathedral in the city on Saturday evening.

"I'm obviously very honoured to receive this award, but I see it not as an award to me but to the people of Derry," said Mr Hume, the former MP for Foyle.

"If it hadn't been for the great support from the people of Derry, I wouldn't have been able to have represented them or did anything I did achieve."

Retired Bishop of Derry Edward Daly said the knighthood was a very fitting tribute to a man he described as a "great friend and confidant".

"It's a celebration of John's life and what he's done, his witness as a Catholic," he said.

"He's been rightly recognised by the Holy Father for all the work he has done on behalf of the people of this city and on behalf of many, many others."

Bishop Daly described Mr Hume as "one of the leading politicians of our time".

Image caption Mr Hume has been made a Knight Commander of St Gregory

"He has given huge service to the people here, given great leadership during a very difficult time when he was the focus of our hopes on many occasions. He never forgot where he came from," he said.

A former teacher, Mr Hume first came to prominence through the civil rights movement in the late 1960s.

He helped to found the moderate, nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party in 1970, taking over as leader in 1979.

During his time in the public eye, Mr Hume was respected and admired on both sides of the sectarian divide and was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his reconciliation work with Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble in 1998.

When the knighthood was announced, Michael Kelly from the Irish Catholic newspaper said it was a "very prestigious honour from the Vatican" which few received.

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