The passing of former SDLP leader, John Hume, has resulted in numerous eulogies affording immense credit to the Derry native’s persistent quest towards the achievement of peace and reconciliation during his political career.
In this regard, Athlone Town Mayor, Cllr. Aengus O’Rourke, noted the instrumental role played by the Nobel Peace Prize winner in achieving the Good Friday Agreement, hence bringing to a conclusion sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland.
“John Hume will be remembered as a champion of the people of Derry, Ireland and beyond, dedicating his life to achieving peace and reconciliation. He absolutely reviled the use of physical force, and was undaunted in his criticism of those who chose to use violence.
“He constantly advocated for peace through some of the most awful tragedies of the Troubles, despite the risk to his own life and urged people to reach for a hand to shake rather than for a weapon or a fist.
“John, of course, was a key architect of Northern Ireland’s Good Friday Agreement and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the pivotal role he played in ending the region’s sectarian conflict. Now 23 years on from that all important agreement, we thankfully still enjoy the wonderful peace brought about by John Hume and others.
“God knows, had it not been for John Hume, potentially hundreds if not thousands of lives would have been lost since 1997. In my opinion, John Hume was an inspirational leader, and a politician without parallel in modern history.
“He inspired many through his actions and words, one line more than any other resonates with me, ‘all conflict is about difference’.
“The answer to difference is to respect it. Therein lies a most fundamental principle of peace, respect for diversity.
“John was firmly and passionately committed to peaceful means at all costs. Those who thought they could win using violence were finally persuaded by John and others that they could not and would not succeed.
“Thanks to the likes of John Hume and Seamus Mallon we enjoy peace on this island. When our future generations are learning about Irish hero’s, John Hume’s name will be prominent among them.
“On my own behalf and on behalf of the people of Athlone I would like to express my deepest sympathies John’s wife Pat and his children. Ar dheis Dé go raibh anam,” Cllr. O’Rourke stated.