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Malachi O'Doherty

For John Hume, it was a case of sharing power or nothing... it was he who spurned a united Ireland

Malachi O'Doherty

Former SDLP leader had a vision in the early '70s and stuck to it the rest of his political career, says Malachi O'Doherty

Some critics of John Hume have been saying in the past week that he betrayed his own sectarianism by turning his back on unionists to make a deal with the IRA. This is nonsense.

It presupposes that an opportunity existed in the 1980s for the SDLP to go into government with the Ulster Unionists and build a middle ground. That was the British plan, following the collapse in 1974 of the power-sharing Sunningdale Agreement.

My understanding of Hume is that his sole project was to revive Sunningdale. It had achieved the agreement of much of unionism, most nationalists and the two governments. It had been brought down by street protests.