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SDLP announces death of former leader John Hume

The SDLP has announced the death of former party leader John Hume.

Mr Hume, a Noble peace prize winner, was regarded by many as the driving force behind Northern Ireland’s 1998 Good Friday peace agreement.

The party announced his passing on Monday morning.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the death of John Hume represents the loss of "20th century Ireland’s most significant and consequential political figure.

"It is no exaggeration to say that each and every one of us now lives in the Ireland Hume imagined – an island at peace and free to decide its own destiny."

He added: "This is an historic moment on this island but most of all it is a moment of deep, deep sadness. In the days ahead, Ireland will be united in mourning his loss. However amidst that national mourning, it is equally true that the marking of John’s death also opens up a space to reflect on, and celebrate, the magnitude of his life.

"As part of that reflection of John’s work, never has the beatitude rung truer - blessed be the peacemakers. 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.

John Hume 1937 - 2020: A life in pictures Close

John Hume playing with his children

John Hume playing with his children

John Hume is carried aloft through Londonderry city centre after being returned as MP for Foyle in 1987

John Hume is carried aloft through Londonderry city centre after being returned as MP for Foyle in 1987

John Hume on his wedding day with wife Pat

John Hume on his wedding day with wife Pat

John Hume is detained by soldiers during a civil rights protest in Londonderry in August 1971.

John Hume is detained by soldiers during a civil rights protest in Londonderry in August 1971.

John Hume

John Hume

John Hume in thoughtful mood at the SDLP party conference in Newcastle in 1979

John Hume in thoughtful mood at the SDLP party conference in Newcastle in 1979

Bertie Ahern and John Hume as they took part in a press conference on the 10th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement in Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

Bertie Ahern and John Hume as they took part in a press conference on the 10th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement in Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

U2 star Bono is flanked by David Trimble and John Hume on stage during a special concert in Belfast to promote the ‘Yes’ vote in the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement (Chris Bacon/PA)

U2 star Bono is flanked by David Trimble and John Hume on stage during a special concert in Belfast to promote the ‘Yes’ vote in the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement (Chris Bacon/PA)

PA

John Hume with his good friend, Senator Ted Kennedy, in the Bogside

John Hume with his good friend, Senator Ted Kennedy, in the Bogside

John Hume with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan

John Hume with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan

John Hume and his wife Pat at the Foyle Arts Centre in Londonderry after hearing that he and David Trimble were to share the Nobel Peace Prize

John Hume and his wife Pat at the Foyle Arts Centre in Londonderry after hearing that he and David Trimble were to share the Nobel Peace Prize

Photopress Belfast

John Hume with party colleague Seamus Mallon

John Hume with party colleague Seamus Mallon

John Hume and David Trimble with U2 frontman Bono celebrating the Good Friday Agreement

John Hume and David Trimble with U2 frontman Bono celebrating the Good Friday Agreement

The SDLP team led by leader John Hume arrives at Stormont in 1999 to start the process of selecting ministers for the devolved government

The SDLP team led by leader John Hume arrives at Stormont in 1999 to start the process of selecting ministers for the devolved government

John Hume waiting for the verdict of the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement, David Trimble, Tony Blair and John Hume at Dunadry in Co Antrim

John Hume waiting for the verdict of the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement, David Trimble, Tony Blair and John Hume at Dunadry in Co Antrim

Photopress Belfast

John Hume waiting for the verdict of the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement, David Trimble, Tony Blair and John Hume at Dunadry in Co Antrim

John Hume waiting for the verdict of the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement, David Trimble, Tony Blair and John Hume at Dunadry in Co Antrim

Photopress Belfast

Hometown heroes: John Hume celebrates with Derry City players after their 2010 First Division win

Hometown heroes: John Hume celebrates with Derry City players after their 2010 First Division win

SPORTSFILE

Former SDLP leader John Hume and Bill Clinton pictured in front of the Guildhall. Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye.

Former SDLP leader John Hume and Bill Clinton pictured in front of the Guildhall. Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye.

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams (left) and SDLP leader John Hume (Chris Bacon/PA)

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams (left) and SDLP leader John Hume (Chris Bacon/PA)

PA

John Hume worked with Ian Paisley

John Hume worked with Ian Paisley

PA

SDLP leader John Hume with his wife Pat speak to the media after he and David Trimble won the Nobel Peace Prize (PA)

SDLP leader John Hume with his wife Pat speak to the media after he and David Trimble won the Nobel Peace Prize (PA)

PA

John Hume in front of the Stormont Building in 2002 (Paul Faith/PA)

John Hume in front of the Stormont Building in 2002 (Paul Faith/PA)

John Hume with David Trimble (PA)

John Hume with David Trimble (PA)

PA

Bill Clinton in front of the Guildhall with former SDLP leader John Hume and his wife Pat. Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye.

Bill Clinton in front of the Guildhall with former SDLP leader John Hume and his wife Pat. Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye.

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

SDLP Conference, St Columb's Hall, Derry 12th March 2016. SDLP Leader Colm Eastwood John Hume at the conclusion of the conference Photo:Presseye.

SDLP Conference, St Columb's Hall, Derry 12th March 2016. SDLP Leader Colm Eastwood John Hume at the conclusion of the conference Photo:Presseye.

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

File photo dated 19/10/2000 of the Dalai Lama (left) meeting with fellow Nobel peace laureate John Hume, the former SDLP leader has died at the age of 83. Photo: Martin McCullough/PA Wire

File photo dated 19/10/2000 of the Dalai Lama (left) meeting with fellow Nobel peace laureate John Hume, the former SDLP leader has died at the age of 83. Photo: Martin McCullough/PA Wire

PA

File photo dated 24/08/2014 of John Hume and his wife Pat, the former SDLP leader has died at the age of 83. PA Photo.Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

File photo dated 24/08/2014 of John Hume and his wife Pat, the former SDLP leader has died at the age of 83. PA Photo.Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

PA

Handout File photo dated 12/04/2000 of Former South African President Nelson Mandela meeting John Hume at the South African Embassy in Dublin Photo: PA Wire

Handout File photo dated 12/04/2000 of Former South African President Nelson Mandela meeting John Hume at the South African Embassy in Dublin Photo: PA Wire

PA

John Hume playing with his children

"Hume will always find a home amongst the pantheon of great Irish leaders and it is only right and natural that he will now be spoken of in the very same breath as O’Connell and Parnell.

"It is important that John’s endeavours are fully appreciated in terms of their sheer scale - his impact and legacy extends well beyond one lifetime and well beyond the confines of Northern Ireland. His life’s work brought to an end the seemingly intractable historical arc of bitter conflict between the neighbouring islands of Britain and Ireland.

"After some 800 years which inflicted so much hurt and harm on all our peoples, it is John Hume who must now be remembered as the great healer of that history. For all of these reasons and more, John Hume truly was Ireland’s greatest."

The party extended its sympathies and thanks to the care and nursing staff of Owen Mor nursing home in Derry.

"The care they have shown John in the last months of his life has been exceptional," the statement said.

"As a family, we are unfailingly inspired by the professionalism, compassion, and love they have shown to John and all those under their care. We can never adequately show them our thanks for looking after John at a time when we could not. The family drew great comfort in being with John again in the last days of his life.

"We would like also to extend our gratitude to the people of Derry and Moville/Greencastle, who have looked after John and shown us so much kindness as his dementia has progressed. Celebrating community in all its diversity went to the heart of John’s political ethos and we are very appreciative that our communities supported, respected and protected John."

The statement continued: "John was a husband, a father, a grandfather, a great grandfather and a brother. He was very much loved, and his loss will be deeply felt by all his extended family.

"John’s funeral will be arranged according to the current government regulations with very strict rules on numbers.

"We realise this will mean that many will be unable to join us and we will arrange a memorial service and a celebration of his life in due course. Above all, we know that John would have prioritised public health, and the safety and health of our communities. We are grateful for your condolences and support, and we appreciate that you will respect the family’s right to privacy at this time of great loss.

"It seems particularly apt for these strange and fearful days to remember the phrase that gave hope to John and so many of us through dark times: we shall overcome."

Belfast Telegraph