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Tue, 29 September 2020

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Boris Johnson pays tribute after death of ex-SDLP leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume

Boris Johnson pays tribute after death of ex-SDLP leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume

John Hume was widely credited for his role in deelivering the Good Friday Agreement

3 min read

Boris Johnson has paid tribute to former SDLP leader and Nobel Prize winner John Hume.

The former MP and MEP died at the age of 83 following a long illness, his family announced.

Mr Hume is widely regarded for his work in helping to deliver the Good Friday Agreement, for which he was later jointly awarded a Nobel Peace Prize alongside Unionist leader David Trimble.

The Northern Irish politician had been criticised by some at the time for holding secret talks with Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, but the meetings were later credited for laying the foundations of the future ceasefire.

In a statement, his family said: "John was a husband, a father, a grandfather, a great grandfather and a brother. He was very much loved, and his loss will be deeply felt by all his extended family.

"It seems particularly apt for these strange and fearful days to remember the phrase that gave hope to John and so many of us through dark times: we shall overcome."

Responding to the news, the Prime Minister Mr 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," he said.

"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 twenty years, driven by a strong sense of social justice, and continued to be a revered figure for many throughout these islands and further afield."

He added: "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.

"His vision paved the way for the stability, positivity and dynamism of the Northern Ireland of today and his passing is a powerful reminder of how far Northern Ireland has come."

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was in office when the peace deal was signed, said: "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."

Mr Hume was one of the founding members of the Social Democrat and Labour Party (SDLP) in 1970, later leading the party from 1979 until 2001.

Irish Taouseach Michael Martin said Mr Hume was a "true peacemaker".

"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," he added.

Norther Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster said the former SDLP leader had worked to promote democratic politics during the "darkest days" on the conflict.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: "Life across the island of Ireland is peaceful and more prosperous today because of his courage, vision and determination.

"He guided away from violence and towards justice, tolerance and democracy. He takes his rightful place in the pantheon of leaders whose legacy is of creating a better world for the next generation."

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