John Hume, Catholic leader of Northern Ireland and Nobel Peace Prize winner, dies at 83

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John Hume, a key Catholic architect of the 1998 Good Friday Peace Agreement in Northern Ireland that won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending 30 years of sectarian violence, died Monday in the age 83, his SDLP party said.Hume, a veteran civil rights activist credited with launching peace negotiations in a bloodshed region of Britain in the early 1990s, shared the peace prize with the Prime Minister of Ireland then Northern David Trimble of the Ulster Protestant Unionist Party.

He died at a retirement home in his hometown of Londonderry, also known as Derry, in the wee hours of Monday morning, his family said.

Former PMs pay homage

“John Hume was a political titan; a visionary who refused to believe that the future had to be the same as the past. His contribution to peace in Northern Ireland has been epic, ”said former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in office at the time. of the Good Friday deal, said in a statement.

Another former British Prime Minister, John Major, also paid tribute to Hume, describing him as “one of the most fervent warriors for peace”.

“Few others have invested so much time and energy in this research, and few have sought to change entrenched attitudes with such fierce determination,” Major said in a statement.

“Those whose communities have been transformed into peaceful neighborhoods may wish to pay tribute to one of the most fervent warriors for peace. He has earned a place of honor in Irish history. “

Fight against discrimination

In 1968, Hume joined a movement to protect the civil rights of the province’s pro-Irish Roman Catholic minority, fighting discrimination against the pro-British Protestant majority in everything from housing to education.

As leader of the Social Democratic and Moderate Labor Party (SDLP), Hume was a strong supporter of non-violence as fighting erupted between Irish nationalists who wanted a united Ireland and pro-British forces, including the British Army, who wanted to maintain the region’s British status.

In 1998, more than 3,600 had died.

“From the outset of the unrest, John urged people to stand by their goal peacefully and consistently criticized those who did not realize the importance of peace,” Trimble told BBC Radio Ulster on Monday, hailing the “ major contribution ”of Hume to the peace process.

Pioneering discussions

In a decisive breakthrough, Hume took part in pioneering talks in 1993 with Gerry Adams, who was then the leader of the Sinn Fein party which was then the political wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) guerrillas.

The talks helped pave the way for a joint UK and Irish government initiative in 1993 that spawned a peace process and an IRA truce in 1994 – and ultimately paved the way for the landmark Good Friday deal. four years later.

“When others were stuck in the ritualistic politics of condemnation, John Hume had the courage to take real risks for the peace,” Adams said in a statement. “When others kept talking about peace, John took up the challenge and helped make peace. “

In this photo from December 10, 1998, Hume, right, looks at the Nobel Peace Prize diploma he received from Francis Sejersted, left, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize Committee at the award ceremony prices at Oslo City Hall. (Bjoern Sigurdsoen / NTB / The Associated Press)



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