Last night an Raidío Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ) the announcement of the viewers poll to find Ireland’s Greatest went to a very worthy recipient, John Hume the Nobel Peace laureate who is formerly MP, MEP and leader of the SDLP.
At a time when the buzz across Ireland is to look for a shared future living in peace between all communities the man whose involvement stems from the civil rights movement in the 60s to the Belfast Agreement and is still felt today is a beacon of where we can be. Hume is a man who spent all of his public life working to bring people together. As someone who started out merely looking out for the local residents of Derry as part of the Derry Citizen’s Action Committee and a founder member of the Derry Credit Union his rise to international acclaim shows how local campaign can shape a life and change the world.
John Hume of course set up the SDLP but it was his work in secret talks with Sinn Féin that got the first cease-fire in the troubles declared in Northern Ireland, then got them around the table for talks about a shared future, which culminated with the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.
He’s done a lot to lead to a united, shared future for those of us in Northern Ireland and indeed Ireland as a whole. Up against Michael Collins, Mary Robinson, James Connolly and Bono he was a worthy winner. Here is what the man himself said about the accolade:
‘I am very proud that people across Ireland took the time to vote for me and I appreciate it greatly.
‘This award obviously recognises the contribution of my wife and family over many years as well as others who worked with me.’
‘I can only thank people in Derry and across the country for taking the time to vote for me.’
Adding that the tag of Ireland’s Greatest could have been given to all men and women who had campaigned for peace throughout the island.