Bill Clinton in tribute to architect of Northern Ireland peace process John Hume on 80th birthday
Bill Clinton has led the celebrations to John Hume, considered the architect of the Northern Ireland peace process, on his 80th birthday.
The former SDLP leader and Nobel laureate marked his milestone birthday on Wednesday.
Mr Hume, a founding member of the SDLP, was a recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize alongside former UUP leader David Trimble.
As well as serving in the Assembly, he was an MP for Foyle and an MEP.
US President Bill Clinton described Mr Hume as an "inspiration," The Irish News reported.
“Not many in your position would have stayed the course for peace in the face of such long odds but your belief that progress was possible gave hope to all parties – and ensured that peace stayed within reach, even during the most challenging moments," he said.
“Your tireless efforts to secure a better future for Northern Ireland will always be an inspiration for me – as it is for so many people who can now raise families and go about their daily lives in peace because you cared to fight for it."
Irish president Michael D Higgins said the Londonderry native made an "immense contribution to the advancement of peace and reconciliation on this island".
"John was the moral architect of an inclusive peace process that delivered the Good Friday Agreement of 1998," he said.
Former deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness passed on his best wishes.
Today we salute John Hume as he celebrates his 80th Birthday. We acknowledge & appreciate your life's work for peace. Thank you John. pic.twitter.com/xVzndwUH6E— Charlie Flanagan (@CharlieFlanagan) January 18, 2017
Warmest best wishes to John Hume, Pat & family today on his 80th Birthday. #Enjoy— Martin McGuinness (@M_McGuinness_SF) January 18, 2017
He took to Twitter to say: "Warmest best wishes to John Hume, Pat and family today on his 80th birthday."
Current SDLP leader Colum Eastwood MLA said Mr Hume's life was "dedicated to peace and progress".
"He gave himself to those causes selflessly and they have come at no little cost. We all remain so thankful for what John gave and for what he achieved", he said.
“In a week dominated by the collapse of our institutions and the prospect of Brexit, we would all do well to return to John's values and vision of co-operation and mutual respect in Ireland and in Europe.
“Like everyone in Derry, I would like to wish John the happiest of birthdays and wish himself and Pat rest and happiness in the time ahead.”
Foyle MP Mark Durkan said he was "delighted" to pay tribute to Mr Hume on his birthday.
"John has the appreciation and affection of people the length and breadth of Ireland for what he stood for, what he stood against and what he withstood," he said.
“When the violence and intransigence of others was wounding hope and ruining lives, John stood up to keep the hope of peace and democratic sharing alive.
“He championed solidarity, social justice, human rights, economic priority and international cohesion.
“People can write memoirs that put them at the centre of the peace process, at the centre of agreement and breakthrough, but it was John Hume who drew the map, wrote the plan and led the way.
“He provided the sat-nav that brought everyone from their different and hopeless positions to the place of peace, shared institutions and stability.
“His huge contribution provided us with the platform to build a better future.
“Through dark and turbulent times, John served as an engine for change, an anchor for stability and a compass for hope – not only in Ireland but internationally.
“In the uncertainty and recrimination of this week, questionable political standards and the wider anxieties and prejudices surrounding ‘Brexit moves’ and Trumpism, it is timely to celebrate a man who Seamus Heaney said “Always stood in the indicative”.