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Northern Irish political leader, Nobel Laureate John Hume dies at 83

U.S. President Bill Clinton meets meets with Northern Irish lawmaker and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume in the Oval Office of the White House on March 17, 2000. File Photo by William Vasta/the White House/UPI
U.S. President Bill Clinton meets meets with Northern Irish lawmaker and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume in the Oval Office of the White House on March 17, 2000. File Photo by William Vasta/the White House/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 3 (UPI) -- John Hume, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and widely acknowledged as an architect of the Good Friday Agreement that helped bring peace to Northern Ireland, died Monday, his family said. He was 83.

A founder and former leader of Northern irish Social Democratic and Labor Party died at a nursing home in Derry, relatives said. He had been diagnosed with dementia.

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Hume became SDLP leader in 1979 and helped broker a cease-fire with the Irish Republican Army in 1994 and the Good Friday agreement four years later, for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize. His devotion to nonviolence, compromise and unity eventually won over bitter factions in Northern Ireland.

"John embodied and thus gave birth to a new political creed on this island, transforming the conflicting traditions which had rigidly defined our past," SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said. "It taught us that it is far better to live for Ireland than to die for Ireland, it challenged us to pursue the path of politics rather than the reactionary instinct of violence, it dared us always to choose principle ahead of easy populism and it told us that human difference doesn't have to mean division."

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Eastwood said the Good Friday agreement will always be a big part of Hume's legacy.

"John was not simply the agreement's architect or its builder, he was very much both," he said. "He will forever remain its enduring inspiration."

"All of us should bow our heads in respect and thanks," Simon Coveney, Ireland's foreign and defense minister, tweeted. "What an extraordinary man, peacemaker, politician, leader, civil rights campaigner, family man, Derryman, inspiration. May he rest peacefully and his legacy live on."

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Clair Hanna, a South Belfast lawmaker, called Hume Ireland's "greatest" peacemaker.

"More or less all the enduring and successful ideas about resolving the centuries-old conflict here came from the brain of John Hume," Hanna tweeted. "Pluralist, internationalist, social democratic and resolutely non-violent."

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair called Hume a "political titan" and his work to bring peace to Northern Ireland "epic."

"He will rightly be remembered for it," he said. "He was insistent it was possible, tireless in pursuit of it and endlessly creative in seeking ways of making it happen."

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Richard "Dick" Thornburgh, former attorney general of the United States and former governor of Pennsylvania, takes a seat at the witness hearing after U.S. Chief Justice nominee Judge John Roberts testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on September 15, 2005. Thornburgh died on December 31 at age 88. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo

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