John Hume: Reaction to the death of a 'political titan'

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Politicians from across the political spectrum pay tribute to John Hume

Former SDLP leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate John Hume has died at the age of 83.

Politicians and others have been paying tribute to him and his long career, from the civil rights movement to the Good Friday Agreement.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair

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David Trimble, Tony Blair and John Hume were heavily involved in the negotiation of the Good Friday Agreement

John Hume was a political titan; a visionary who refused to believe the future had to be the same as the past.

His contribution to peace in Northern Ireland was epic and he will rightly be remembered for it. He was insistent it was possible, tireless in pursuit of it and endlessly creative in seeking ways of making it happen.

Beyond that he was a remarkable combination of an open mind to the world and practical politics. In any place, in any party, anywhere, he would have stood tall.

It was good fortune that he was born on the island of Ireland.

Former US President Bill Clinton

Image source, Pacemaker

Hillary and I are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend John Hume, who fought his long war for peace in Northern Ireland.

His chosen weapons: an unshakeable commitment to nonviolence, persistence, kindness and love.

With his enduring sense of honour, he kept marching on against all odds towards a brighter future for all the children of Northern Ireland.

Former US Senator George Mitchell

John Hume was one of the great persons in all of Irish history.

Many of the unionists disagreed with him of course; many nationalists disagreed with him, but not one of them ever to my knowledge doubted his sincerity; his commitment to the objective; his often repeated statement that Northern Ireland had to be for both unionists and nationalists and it had to be done in a way that was peaceful.

I think people in Ireland will remember John - people north and south, and people around the world who value peace - will remember John Hume for centuries to come.

First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster

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Sincere condolences to Pat and the wider Hume family. A giant in Irish nationalism, John left his unique mark in the House of Commons, Brussels and Washington.

In our darkest days he recognised that violence was the wrong path and worked steadfastly to promote democratic politics.

Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill

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John was a huge figure in Irish politics for many years and was known the world over for his peacemaking efforts.

He was a leader who worked tirelessly for the community and his beloved Derry.

His work alongside Gerry Adams in the Hume-Adams talks were instrumental in creating the space for developing and progressing the peace process which led to the Good Friday Agreement.

Irish President Michael D Higgins

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.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood

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Colum Eastwood is MP for Foyle, a seat John Hume held from 1983 to 2005

Derry, and the whole island, is in mourning today following the passing of our friend, leader and greatest peacemaker.

We can never repay all that John did for us but we can live the values that meant so much to him. We shall overcome.

Former Ulster Unionist Party leader and First Minister Lord Trimble

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David Trimble and John Hume were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998

There is absolutely no doubt he was a major figure in the [peace] process.

Right from the outset of the Troubles, John was urging people to stick to their objective peacefully and was constantly critical of those who did not realise the importance of peace.

He was a major contributor to politics in Northern Ireland particularly to the process that gave us an agreement that we are still working our way through.

That is hugely important. He will be remembered for that contribution for years to come.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

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John Hume was quite simply a political giant.

He stood proudly in the tradition that was totally opposed to violence and committed to pursuing his objectives by exclusively peaceful and democratic means.

For decades he sought resolution of the Troubles in Northern Ireland through dialogue and agreement.

Without John Hume there would have been no Belfast or Good Friday Agreement.

He led the SDLP with great distinction for more than 20 years, driven by a strong sense of social justice, and continued to be a revered figure for many throughout these islands and further afield.

With his passing we have lost a great man who did so much to help bring an end to the Troubles and build a better future for all.

Taoiseach (Irish PM) Micheál Martin

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John Hume was a great hero and a true peacemaker.

Throughout his long life he exhibited not just courage, but also fortitude, creativity and an utter conviction that democracy and human rights must define any modern society.

For over four decades, he was a passionate advocate for a generous, outward-looking and all-encompassing concept of nationalism and republicanism. For him the purpose of politics was to bring people together, not split them apart.

During the darkest days of paramilitary terrorism and sectarian strife, he kept hope alive. And with patience, resilience and unswerving commitment, he triumphed and delivered a victory for peace.

While the 1998 Good Friday Agreement was the product of many people's work, can anyone really claim that it would have happened without John Hume?

He didn't just talk about peace, he worked unstintingly for peace, at times in the face of the most virulent criticism and risk to his life. He knew that to be a peacemaker on this island meant being a risk taker.

Former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams

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Over the many years of private conversation, I got to know John well and we came to trust and respect each other's opinions, and to accept that our common objective was to end conflict on the island of Ireland and create the conditions for a lasting peace with justice.

John was very down to earth and easy to talk to. Our conversations were never combative.

He listened attentively to my opinions while ably arguing his own views when we disagreed.

I have many happy memories of my engagements with John.

The Good Friday Agreement in 1998, 12 years after we first met, was a landmark moment for both of us.

But one of my favourite memories is of John and I standing in the White House during St Patrick's Day celebrations in March 1995 singing the The Town I Loved So Well to an appreciative and much bemused Irish-American audience.

US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden

Image source, Reuters

We have lost another great man of peace. John Hume committed his life to the principles of nonviolence, and through his faith, statesmanship, and perseverance, he helped bring Northern Ireland through the Troubles to a better tomorrow.

He saw the power of political leadership to bring a divided people together around a common purpose, without which the Good Friday Agreement would never have come to pass.

May his leadership and the example of his life continue to inspire future generations of peacemakers and patriots to create a world more grounded in civil rights, tolerance, equality, and democratic freedoms.

US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo

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Mr Hume's influence extended far beyond the shores where he lived.

During the darkest days of Northern Ireland's recent past, he won the friendship and respect of countless Americans.

His early and sustained influence in bringing US political and economic support to Northern Ireland cannot be overstated, and this profound partnership and friendship continues today.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis

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John Hume was one of the most significant architects of the Northern Ireland peace process, and one of the most important figures in recent UK and Irish political history.

He looked beyond the violence that was taking place to seek a pathway to peace.

Without his leadership and his courage, Northern Ireland would not be where it is today.

He reached out to the international community, recognising the value of this engagement. He ensured that world leaders supported the efforts of politicians to underpin the Belfast Agreement, to which he made such a vital contribution.

Few people deserved the Nobel Peace Prize more than John - he dedicated his life to peace, and for that the people of Northern Ireland will never forget him."

Former Prime Minister Sir John Major

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John Hume was an advocate for peace in Northern Ireland for the greater part of his life.

Few others invested such time and energy to this search and few sought to change entrenched attitudes with such fierce determination.

Those whose communities have been transformed into peaceful neighbourhoods may wish to pay tribute to one of the most fervent warriors for peace.

He has earned himself an honoured place in Irish history.

Ulster Unionist Party leader Steve Aiken

John Hume's huge contribution to political life in Northern Ireland is unarguable, even by those who would have regarded themselves as political opponents.

On behalf of the Ulster Unionist Party I would like to extend my deepest condolences to his wife Pat, his family and to all his friends and colleagues.

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long

Very sad to hear of John Hume's passing. A man who took risks for peace, his was a life well lived.

I often saw him in Greencastle with Pat in his latter years - such a devoted couple. My sincerest condolences to her and the family circle and to his SDLP colleagues and friends.

Head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin

A great sadness has descended on my home city of Derry today as we learn of the death of one of our greatest sons, Mr John Hume.

That sadness ripples out to every corner of Ireland and all around the world where the mere mention of the name of John Hume evokes admiration, respect and thanksgiving for a life dedicated to peace and social justice.

Today we are remembering a paragon of peace, a giant of a statesman whose legacy of unstinting service to the common good is internationally acclaimed, even though it is still perhaps only unfolding.

Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh, John McDowell

John Hume will be remembered not only as a significant politician in Ireland but also for his unambiguous dedication to making political change happen by purely peaceful means.

Because of the manner of his approach, this required enormous patience and sympathetic understanding and those of us who are the beneficiaries of his legacy can only regret his passing while, at the same time, being thankful for his gargantuan efforts in the cause of peace and good relations.

Former adviser to President Bill Clinton, Nancy Soderberg

We came to rely on John Hume as the best bellwether of possible progress in the peace process.

It was his sensing of the moment being right (to grant Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams a US visa in 1994) that turned the position of the president of the United States to say 'yes, it's time to move forward' and it would not have happened without John Hume.

Founding member of the SDLP Austin Currie

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John Hume (middle right) pictured in 1973 with three other founding members of the SDLP: Austin Currie, Gerry Fitt and Paddy Devlin

John Hume is the greatest Irishman since Parnell. His place in Irish history is richly deserved.

Despite the pressures on him, his family and his beloved Derry, he displayed great moral, physical and political courage.

He never - not for one moment - departed from a complete insistence on the non-violent approach to our problems in Northern Ireland.

Today we think of Pat and John's family. We remember all the memories we share through the years.

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