John Hume, a Nobel laureate and Roman Catholic civil rights campaigner who laid the groundwork for Northern Ireland’s Good Friday peace agreement, died early Monday, his family said.
Hume, who was hailed as a hero for the Irish people, died in a care home in his native Londonderry, his family said in a statement. He was 83.
The campaigner, credited with kick-starting peace negotiations in a British region rocked with violence in the early 1990s, shared the Peace Prize with Northern Ireland’s then-first minister, David Trimble of the Protestant Ulster Unionist Party.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in office at the time of the Good Friday accord, called Hume “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.”
Former US President Bill Clinton, who considered Hume a friend, credited him with “marching on against all odds towards a brighter future for all the children of Northern Ireland.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised Hume as a “political giant” and Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin lauded him as a “great hero” for the Irish people.
Back in 1968, Hume joined a movement to protect the civil rights of the province’s pro-Irish Catholic minority, battling discrimination by the pro-British Protestant majority.
Hume, a leader of the moderate Social Democratic and Labour Party, called for non-violence amid clashes between Irish nationalists who wanted a united Ireland and forces, including the British Army, fighting to maintain the region’s British status.
More than 3,600 were killed in clashes in the region by 1998.
With Post wires
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