Irish peacemaker and politician Hume remembered at funeral by Pope Francis and Dalai Lama


Some well-known pubs in the centre of Derry (Simon Roughneen)

Some well-known pubs in the centre of Derry (Simon Roughneen)

DUBLIN — The funeral took place on Wednesday of John Hume, the former Northern Ireland politician who was awarded a Nobel Prize for his efforts to end three decades of deadly conflict in the region.

Tributes from Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama and Bono were read out by Donal McKeown, the Catholic bishop of Derry, who presided over the funeral Mass.

A Vatican statement said that Pope Francis was “saddened” to learn of Hume’s death and “sends the assurance of his prayers to his family.”

Hume died on Monday at the age of 83 after a long illness.

Hume’s “message about peace and non-violence in the resolution of conflict … will long survive him,” the Dalai Lama said.

Bono, lead singer with Irish rock band U2, described Hume as “a man who made all our lives bigger.”

The funeral was held in the Cathedral of Saint Eugene in Hume’s home town of Derry in the north-west of Ireland.

Hume was described as “a Derryman to his core” by his son, John Hume Jr, who gave the funeral oration.

Hume’s other son Aiden, who lives in the United States, did not attend the funeral due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hume’s family earlier asked people not to line the streets of Derry or gather outside the cathedral.

Among the funeral attendees were Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin and Arlene Foster, the first minister of Northern Ireland’s regional administration.

Among those who mourned Hume’s death after it was announced early on Monday were British and US leaders past and present, including Tony Blair, Boris Johnson and Bill Clinton, as well as Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission.

Hume, the former leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), shared the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with David Trimble, who was head of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP).

The two men earlier that year negotiated the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement with other parties in the region and with the British and Irish governments, largely ending three decades of violence in which over 3,600 people died.

The Hume-Trimble partnership crossed Northern Ireland’s ethnic and sectarian divide, with the SDLP advocating for the non-violent reunification of Northern Ireland with the rest of Ireland and the UUP seeking to keep the region under British rule.

Hume opposed the Irish Republican Army’s violent campaign against British rule in Northern Ireland, but was a consistent advocate for negotiations, including with Sinn Féin, the IRA’s political wing.

Father Paul Farren, the cathedral’s administrator who concelebrated the funeral Mass, told mourners that “there are people alive today who would not be alive without John.”

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