John Hume was regarded by many as the driving force behind Northern Ireland’s 1998 Good Friday peace agreement.
Born in January 18, 1937, Hume attended Derry’s St Columb’s College and St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, intending to study as a priest.
Abandoning the idea, he returned to Derry and became a teacher at St Columb’s.
He first rose to prominence as a founding member of Derry’s Credit Union and also became Chair of the University for Derry Committee in 1965.
When the university campaign failed Hume became a leading figure in the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement, calling for equal rights and housing for Catholics in the unionist-dominated Northern Ireland.
At the age of 27 he became the President of the Irish League of Credit Unions and later called this his proudest achievement.
He was first elected to the Parliament of Northern Ireland in 1969 as an independent nationalist before joining the SDLP as a founding member in 1970 alongside the likes of Gerry Fitt and Seamus Mallon.
Hume actively discouraged the Bloody Sunday march in Derry on January 30 1972 fearing it would lead to violence.
Fourteen people were killed when British soldiers opened fire on an anti-interment protest.
Elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1973, Hume served as Minister for Commerce in the short-lived power-sharing government of 1974.
The government was toppled when the Ulster Workers’ Council Strike forced UUP Chief Executive Brian Faulkner to resign from his post.
Throughout the 1970s and 80s Hume made repeated trips to America in an attempt to get support for his peace and power-sharing agenda.
He became highly influential in Irish-American circles and helped secure a 1977 statement from then US President Jimmy Carter in support of finding a peaceful solution to the problems in Northern Ireland.
Hume replaced Fitt as SDLP leader in May 1979 and was elected as a Member of European Parliament for Northern Ireland in June of the same year.
He was elected as the first MP for Foyle in 1983.
In the same year Hume founded The New Ireland Forum which published proposals to achieve a political solution in Northern Ireland.
This combined with Hume’s influence in America helped pave the way for the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985.
Facing fierce criticism from unionists and some within his own party, Hume agreed to meet with the IRA leadership in the mid 1980’s.
The talks with IRA and Sinn Fein leaders eventually helped contribute to the 1994 IRA ceasefire.
Hume and the SDLP played a key role in the talks that led to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, culminating a 30-year quest for a peaceful solution to the political and social problems in Northern Ireland.
He famously appeared onstage with UUP leader David Trimble and U2’s Bono to urge people to vote in favour of the agreement.
Hume and Trimble were awarded the 1998 Noble Peace Prize for their efforts.
He rejected the opportunity to become deputy First Minister in the new Northern Ireland Assembly, formed after the agreement, instead proposing long-time SDLP deputy Seamus Mallon in his place.
Hume stepped down as SDLP leader in 2001 to be replaced by protege Mark Durkan.
The veteran politician announced his complete retirement from politics in February 2004.
He stepped down from his role as an MEP in 2004 and his Westminster role in 2005.
In 2010 he was voted ‘Ireland’s Greatest Person’ in an RTE poll.
A Documentary 'John Hume in America' was released in 2017 detailing the role played by Hume in gaining US support for peace in Northern Ireland.
US President Bill Clinton called Hume “Ireland’s answer to Martin Luther King” for the role he played in the peace process.
On Monday, August 3, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said his passing was an historic moment, but also one of immense sadness.
"As part of that reflection of John’s work, never has the beatitude rung truer - blessed be the peacemakers," he said.
"The life of John Hume will forever be a blessing upon this island since Ireland is now blessed by the peace he gifted to us all. It is the greatest legacy a political leader can bestow upon his country."