John Hume, a son of Derry, a founder of Northern Ireland's Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and veteran campaigner for peace, justice and civil rights, died this morning, aged 83.
SDLP leader from 1979 until 2001, he is regarded as one of the most important figures in recent political history on the island of Ireland, and will be remembered as a key architect of the Northern Ireland peace process that consigned the senseless horrors of 'The Troubles' to the past. His participation in talks between Westminster and Sinn Féin in the 1980s are widely speculated at having persuaded the latter to follow the route to embracing the Anglo-Irish Agreement, and ultimately the Good Friday or Belfast Agreement.
Throughout his political career, he was passionate about bringing the north's communities together, and his tireless work to promote peace and pursue non-violent political change was rewarded with receipt of the Martin Luther King Award and the Gandhi Peace Prize. Upon his retirement from political life in 2004 he received plaudits from all sides of Irish and British politics, including longtime opponent Rev Ian Paisley.
Fittingly, in a 2010 poll organised by national broadcaster Raidió Teilifís Éireann, he was voted the greatest person in Ireland's history.
"Today, we mourn the passing of one of Ireland’s greatest ever sons. He ranks alongside O’Connell and Parnell in the pantheon of Ireland’s great leaders. He was a patriot, a peacemaker, a democrat, and a great, great Derryman. RIP John Hume."
Leo Varadkar, Leader of Fine Gael