03 August 2020 10:43
John Hume dedicated his life to campaigning for civil rights (Picture: AFP) Former Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) leader and Nobel Laureate John Hume has died aged 83, his family has announced. The Northern Irish politician, who was one of the primary architects of the Good Friday Agreement, had suffered with dementia for some years. He is survived by five children, as well as his wife of 58 years Pat. In a statement, his family announced that he died in the early hours of Monday morning following a 'short illness'. 'John was a husband, a father, a grandfather, a great grandfather and a brother,' the statement read. 'He was very much loved, and his loss will be deeply felt by all his extended family'.
Mr Hume had suffered with dementia for some years (Picture: Rex) They added: '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.' The family thanked staff at Owen Mor nursing home in Derry for the 'exceptional care', 'compassion and love' they showed Mr Hume in the final months of his life. 'Celebrating community in all its diversity went to the heart of John's political ethos and we are very appreciative that our communities supported, respected and protected John,' they added. The family said his funeral will be arranged in line with current government regulations with only a small number of guests. They plan to arrange a memorial service and celebration of his life in due course. Co-founders of the SDLP Mr Hume (left) and Ivan Cooper at the base of Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square in 1970 (Picture: Getty) They added: 'Above all, we know that John would have prioritised public health, and the safety and health of our communities. We are grateful for your condolences and support, and we appreciate that you will respect the family's right to privacy at this time of great loss'. Mr Hume served as a politician in his native city of Derry for 36 years. He spent his entire political career advocating for non-violence, while working to try to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and turn it into a united Ireland. The SDLP co-founder is best known for his efforts to secure peace and a power-sharing government in Northern Ireland which culminated in the Good Friday Agreement being signed on April 10, 1998. He was awarded the Nobel Peace prize for his efforts that same year. Following decades of violence in Northern Ireland, Mr Hume went on to lead the 1960s Civil Rights Movement in Derry. The politician, pictured with U2's Bono and former Northern Ireland First Minister David Trimble, received the Nobel Peace prize for his efforts (Picture: Rex) The politician became a Nobel Laureate in 1998 (Picture: Getty) He continued campaigning for civil rights while he led his SDLP from 1979 until 2001. His party joined the first power-sharing government following the Good Friday Agreement. Mr Hume was also later a recipient of the Gandhi Peace Prize and the Martin Luther King Award. In a tribute to Mr Hume, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said he was Ireland's most significant and consequential political figure. 'It is no exaggeration to say that each and every one of us now lives in the Ireland Hume imagined – an island at peace and free to decide its own destiny,' he said. 'This is an historic moment on this island but most of all it is a moment of deep, deep sadness. In the days ahead, Ireland will be united in mourning his loss'. The politician died on Monday morning (Picture: AFP) He added: 'The life of John Hume will forever be a blessing upon this island since Ireland is now blessed by the peace he gifted to us all. It is the greatest legacy a political leader can bestow upon his country.' Advertisement Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was in Number 10 when the Good Friday Agreement was signed, said Mr Hume's 'belief in working through differences to find compromise will stay with me forever'. He added: '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. 'Beyond that, he was a remarkable combination of an open mind to the world and practical politics… He will be greatly missed.' Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected] For more stories like this, check our news page.