Northern Ireland

Pat Hume: Good Friday style talks can break NI deadlock

John Hume with his wife Pat
Image caption Mrs Hume said her husband John always saw politics in terms of the bigger picture

The wife of one of the Good Friday Agreement's architects has said all-party talks are the only way to break the current political stalemate.

Pat Hume, wife of former SDLP leader John, said the DUP-Sinn Fein deadlock needed the "softening voices of other parties."

The Good Friday Agreement was signed following multi party talks in 1998.

Mr Hume, she said, now lives with dementia and has little recollection of the role he played.

Speaking to Radio Foyle on the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, Mrs Hume said she was saddened by the current deadlock.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble, SDLP leader John Hume and U2 frontman Bono pictured together on stage at the Waterfront hall in Belfast in 1998 for a concert to promote a YES vote in the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement

She said the Good Friday Agreement was struck in the face of much bigger political challenges and urged all parties to return to talks.

"I don't think it's a good idea to have the two extreme parties closeted together.

"It is important to have the mix of voices, the softening voices of other parties."

"When you look back at the issues in 1998 - there were constitutional issues, prisoners' rights issues, the policing issues - there were huge issues they were dealing with," she said

Mrs Hume said to break the stalemate all sides needed "a good heart and generosity."

"John always saw the big picture. Politics have become small, his politics were inclusive, outward looking," she added.

Mrs Hume said her husband's dementia means he has little memory of the role he played in Northern Irish political life.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption John Hume has difficulties remembering day-to-day occurrences, his wife Pat said

"It is very sad, his memory has just gone. John does not remember very much about the agreement of 1998, or about the Anglo Irish Agreement or Sunningdale or anything else.

"Yet he gave his entire life to the achievement of them. But he is in a good place, he is content, he is very happy."

She said that for herself and her husband, the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement would be "just another day."

"But personally I hope that somewhere in John there will be a satisfaction that he did his best - and he certainly did," she said.