President leads tributes to John Hume

Staff reporter

President Michael D. Higgins has led tributes to Nobel peace prize winner John Hume as the veteran peacemaker turned 80 this week.

President Higgins described Mr Hume as “the moral architect of an inclusive peace process” that delivered the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

The president said that Mr Hume – who turned 80 on Wednesday – “responding to the fault-lines of sectarianism and injustice which he encountered in his early adult life, John Hume always rejected the use of violence as an instrument of change, following the principle that an ‘eye for eye’ approach leaves us all blind. He stood resolutely for the transformational power of non-violence.

“By providing leadership to those who dedicated themselves to achieving peace, partnership and equality through dialogue and democratic engagement, John motivated and inspired many of the best men and women of his generation, and they in turn would go onto give so much of themselves in the promotion of the project of a peaceful and reconciled island,” the president said.

As he turns 80, Mr Higgins said, “the many aspects of John’s life and legacy – as a man of courage, a committed European and a dedicated and visionary peacemaker – serve as a much-needed inspiration to all of us.

“At a time when both the European Union and Northern Ireland face particular challenges, the values that John espoused – equality, respect, solidarity and partnership – are needed more than ever,” he said.

Mr Hume was honoured by Pope Benedict XVI with a papal knighthood in 2012 in recognition of his contribution to peace and reconciliation.