Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 April 2014

John Hume trails in Derry cultural icon poll

Veteran peacemaker overhauled by singers

Former Nobel winner John Hume

Nobel Peace Laureate John Hume is losing out to two young pop stars in the bid to be named Londonderry’s cultural icon for 2013.

Mr Hume, who turns 76 this month, is being trounced in an official competition organised by the Culture Company for the UK City of Culture year in his hometown.

At the moment the former SDLP leader and Nobel Peace Laureate is on the shortlist along with Derry singers Damian McGinty, of Glee fame, and Keith Harkin, with all three making it through to the top five.

The competition has faced criticism over the choice and diversity of the candidates.

The online voting method — via social networking site Facebook — has also been questioned by some voters who felt it favoured some candidates over others.

There are just a few days left to vote in the competition, with the cultural icon being announced next Wednesday.

As of yesterday Mr Hume was lying in third place with 397 votes, well behind frontrunner Harkin, who has 4,808 votes.

Surfing singer-songwriter Harkin, (26), shot to fame alongside Damian McGinty as part of Phil Coulter’s Celtic Thunder.

He has since gone on to achieve massive success.

Twenty-year-old Glee star Damian McGinty is currently sitting in second place with 1,305 votes, with Derry actress and star of Touched By Angels Roma Downey behind Hume in fourth with 256 votes.

The last of the five finalists are father and son boxing legends Billy and Jimmy Kelly, with 152 votes.

One post on the City of Culture Facebook page said of John Hume: “If this man doesn't win that competition it is a complete and utter shambles!”

Others, though, have defended the selection of Damian and Keith.

A spokesman for Culture Company said yesterday: “The Cultural Icon competition was a fun and innovative way of engaging people in the City of Culture Year through our online channels.

“Entrants were free to nominate whomever they felt best represented the idea of a cultural icon for the city.”

Voting on Derry’s Cultural Icon closes on Monday, January 7. Go to facebook.com/cityofculture2013 to register a vote in the poll.

Profile

John Hume is a regarded as one of the most important figures in the recent political history of Ireland and one of the architects of the Northern Ireland peace process. He was a founding member of the SDLP and co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with David Trimble.

He is also a recipient of the Gandhi Peace Prize and the Martin Luther King Award, the only recipient of the three major peace awards. In 2010 he was named ‘Ireland's Greatest' in a public poll by RTE.

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