Belfast Telegraph

Pat Hume: John would be 'heartbroken' about death of Lyra McKee

John Hume and wife Pat. Niall Carson/PA Wire
John Hume and wife Pat. Niall Carson/PA Wire

The wife of former SDLP leader John Hume has said he would be "heartbroken" if he knew about the murder of young journalist Lyra McKee.

Pat Hume also pleaded with Northern Ireland's politicians not to let the Irish language become a source of political division ahead of power-sharing talks on Tuesday.

Mr Hume lives with dementia. His wife's comments come as new discussions begin at Stormont in a bid to finally end more than two years of political stalemate.

Mrs Hume, speaking to BBC Radio Foyle, said she remained hopeful that the talks will be successful.

"I think two and a half years, almost, that is far too long for people to be without an Executive," she said.

"Without having the help of somebody with power who will be able to attend to those trolleys that our now piling up on hospital corridors, to the numbers on hospital waiting lists, to the schools crying out for funding.

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David Trimble, John Hume and U2’s Bono celebrate the 1998 Agreement together

"John Hume was a great man for dialogue and he would be heartbroken if he could follow what was going on at the moment.

"I remember in 1993 when the news broke of his talks with Gerry Adams, and he was vilified from one end of Ireland to the other.

"But he had the vision and the courage to continue with those talks despite all the vilification, in spite of all the poisoned letters through the post, in spite of all the phone calls and the threats, he had the courage to continue with those talks.

"It is not going to be easy for our politicians to make the necessary compromises."

One of the main sources of contention between the DUP and Sinn Fein is the introduction of an Irish Language Act.

Mrs Hume said: "Please, please, don't let a language which is used for communication, be the source of not talking."

"I think a language is for communication."

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Lyra McKee

Asked how Mr Hume would feel about the murder of journalist Lyra McKee in Londonderry on April 18, she said: "He would be so, so sad. Obviously I told him about it but it doesn't really register with him now. The sadness of dementia now as well.

"He would be absolutely heartbroken if he could really register the fruitlessness of it all."

Mrs Hume said that dialogue and compromise was the key to restoring Stormont.

"I think the time for self-righteousness and hypocrisy has to end," she said. 

"Politics is about compromise, about the art of the possible. They have to be more creative, they have to see the big picture.

"They have to be reconciled."

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