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The Colossus of Peace Has Left Us

By Patrick Van Roy On August 3rd, 2020

Guest post by Paul

The giant of Irish politics, John Hume, has passed away:

He died earlier today at 83 after a long period of illness.

Hume was one of the principle architects of what we now know as the Good Friday Agreement which had its genesis in the Hume / Adams talks of the late eighties which in turn led to the IRA ceasefire of 1994 and the subsequent loyalist ceasefires thereafter. Hume faced opposition to the talks from not only unionism but from also elements within his own party, the SDLP, some of whom were vehemently opposed to him exploring talks with the political representatives of armed Irish Republicanism.

A stalwart of the Civil Rights campaign and witness to Bloody Sunday Hume was one of the first generation of Catholics in the NI state to attend university in the fifties and was a schoolteacher by profession. An unflinching commitment to a peaceful solution of the Irish conflict Hume’s network of contacts in the Irish government, British politics, the European Union and of course the Irish American political establishment meant that he was perfectly placed to put the myriad of pieces of political infrastructure, support and guarantee into the jigsaw which enabled the Good Friday Agreement to happen.

A pacifist his entire life who drew inspiration from his political hero Martin Luther King Hume was the only men on earth to have won the Noble, Martin Luther King & Mahatma Ghandi peace prizes and was bestowed the honour of some forty eight separate honorary doctorates.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam, ní fheicfimid do leithéid arís riomh

45 Responses to “The Colossus of Peace Has Left Us”

  1. Thank you Pat.

    RIP John Hume, a man of infinite integrity who strived constantly for a just society and a peaceful solution to the Irish conflict.

  2. A taste of some of the venom directed at Hume by the scumbag Sindo:

    https://twitter.com/electionlit/status/1290260395102359557/photo/1

  3. At least one can always take a bit of comfort that Cruiser and Eilis O’Hanlon are wrong on just about everything.

  4. Hume to me is one of the giants of the late twentieth century.

    A practical idealist, one who lived in the real world.

    There were several good interviews with him on the old Charlie Rose program

    https://charlierose.com/videos/3672

  5. good link phantom am listening to the great leader
    great to hear him, he’s tough on both sides as he should be .

    just o/t but a reminder what happens when we de-escalate
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jul/31/portland-protests-latest-peaceful-night-federal-troops-withdrawal
    sending in bully troops just inflames and is a lesson for all conflict

  6. It used to be said that NI is a place with too much religion and too little Christianity. Hume represented the very many exceptions to that on the Nationalist side. Hume even had a kind of saintly aura about him; his was modern Christianity in action.

    Of course in a conflict such as the Troubles, a saint on one side only isn’t in itself much use. Even if he had been completely successful, his work would at best have led to an end of all violence from the Nationalist community; but the oppression, injustices, sectarianism and murder would still have continued, albeit at a lesser level of intensity.
    This is all the more true when the saint is on the side of the oppressed, and restrains only those who need to be supported. What was also needed was a saint with the same forbearance and charity and understanding on the Unionist/British side in the 1970’s. Such a figure unfortunately never appeared and the Troubles inevitably continued for decades until stopped more by simple war-weariness than by any Christian motives.
    He did all he could, but ultimately he failed.

  7. “He did all he could, but ultimately he failed.”
    false conclusion Noel, you’ve just said the other side needed a saint with the same forbearance, they failed to provide . Hume succeeded . The GFA happened, then the BA agreement and power-sharing occurred, its current stop/start is up to the new leaders.
    How can you say he failed ? its nonsense

  8. In one of the Charlie Rose interviews, Rose asked a question about the political division of the island

    Hume said that he cared much less about the political division than he did about the fact these were a divided people.

    He wanted to improve relations among the people, first, before worrying about the border line.

    That to me was an enormously sophisticated comment.

  9. “false conclusion Noel, you’ve just said the other side needed a saint with the same forbearance, they failed to provide . Hume succeeded . The GFA happened, then the BA agreement and power-sharing occurred, its current stop/start is up to the new leaders.”

    I don’t want to take anything away from John Hume, who was a great man. However I agree with Noel’s point. Had there been a Unionist John Hume then there is a chance for an accord far earlier, and without bloodshed. However in the absence of a Unionist John Hume it was only that bloodshed that brought Unionism to even consider sharing power with nationalists.

    John Hume had the vision of what the Agreement would look like. But it was the violence in the first place that allowed the Unionists to even consider it.

  10. I don’t think that Hume failed but he didn’t entirely succeed either.

    I suppose the closest that unionism ever came to having a Hume type figure was Terence O’Neill who conceded some of NICRA’s demands, (although tellingly not ‘one man one vote’). O’Neill of course was shafted by both the wider unionist community and his own party for his moderate reform proposals.

  11. One could say that Martin Luther King failed because of the rise of BLM, or that Gandhi failed because of the rise of the Taliban, but that is missing the point. King, Gandhi, and yes, Hume, all succeeded because they moved the ball of peace closer to the goal.

    Paul, for the benefit of us great unwashed English speakers, what is the translation of the Irish Gaelic in your post?

  12. Charles, the first clause is an Irish death blessing and translates roughly as

    May his soul sit at God’s right hand

    and the second clause translates as

    We will never see your likes again, ever.

  13. Gandhi failed because of the rise of the Taliban

    ???

    Ghandi was an Indian Hindu as opposed to an Afghani Muslim. The nº1 cause of the rise of the Taliban was the US training and financing the Afghan Mujahideen to fight the Russian invasion of Afghanistan

  14. //How can you say he failed ?//

    First, he tried to prevent violence and bring an end to discrimination peacefully before the Troubles even started. Well, that certainly failed completely.
    Later, he and his party reached unparalled strength in the early 70’s. He was in a power-sharing executive with Unionists and his vision and strategy had majority support in the Nationalist community and was backed by the Irish, British, American and every other government. This was a new beginning and promised an early end to the Troubles. But there was no counterpart in the Unionist community with the same strength and support, and the whole thing was very soon brought crashing down.

    He was thus relegated to the sidelines for decades, while the killings, destruction and oppression continued. How could that be a success?

  15. My point with the Mahatma was that he fought Muslim extremism as well as the British with his non-violence. BTW, I was trying to say something nice about Mr. Hume. Don’t Knit-pick! 🙂

  16. He was thus relegated to the sidelines for decades, while the killings, destruction and oppression continued. How could that be a success?

    That’s a bit unfair Noel. Prior to Hume / Adams can’t be laid entirely at the feet of Hume, particulary as it was the Joe Devlins and Gerry Fitts which were in control of his party until the end of the seventies. Besides, surely his legacy should be the end game of the GFA and not what was prior to it?

  17. was the Joe Devlins….

    Apologies, meant Paddy Devlin and got confused with ‘wee Joe’ Devlin, pre partition nationalist MP from lower Falls.

  18. A great man. The vision he presented and pushed for was no failure. Any failure lay with others.

  19. Paul, I had forgotten the evil depths to which the Sindo descended. Did you read the John A Murphy piece?

    “Northern nationalists are now belatedly paying with their lives and limbs for IRA atrocities over the long years.”

    Yes, he did write that. In his view, Loyalists were only murdering Catholics because of the IRA and they should have started it earlier.

  20. Thanks for the translation Paul!

  21. Northern nationalists are now belatedly paying with their lives and limbs for IRA atrocities over the long years

    Yeah Reg,

    More immediately the Hume / Adams dialogue fuels loyalist paranoia about pan nationalism:

    https://twitter.com/squinteratn/status/1290349252221296645

    Scum Sindo bastards.

    This is also from one who previously demonised him:

    Eilis O’Hanlon
    @EilisOHanIon
    ·
    5h
    It’s grimly typical of the current state of public discourse that some people would rather spend the day on which John Hume’s death was announced finding imaginary villains to rail against on social media rather than quietly celebrating the man’s life.

    https://twitter.com/EilisOHanIon/status/1290289957517451265

    Hypocrite.

  22. Wow!

    Echoes of AMcC:

    https://thecritic.co.uk/the-liberal-hero-who-sealed-in-ulsters-sectarianism/

  23. Thanks Paul. That article gave me a good laugh.

  24. Informative post Paul, thank you.

    And rest in peace Mr Hume.

  25. What the hell kind of publication is that

  26. The use of the adjective ‘liberal’ should give you a clue. The fact that it’s also funded by Jeremy Hosking should tell you something:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremy_Hosking

  27. The Critic is a good publication, very broad and open-minded in the best classical liberal tradition.

    The left hates it, of course, because it’s very broad and open-minded in the best classical liberal tradition.

  28. No opinion on Hume, Pete?

  29. Broadly speaking, Hume and the SDLP were for the latter 20th C what the Irish Parliamentary Party was at the start. “Middle-class, middle-aged and middle-of-the-road”, as Eamonn McCann famously called them. And they made the same mistake and suffered the same consequences: they trusted British governments. They believed the British would be neutral in the Nationalist-Unionist argument, and failed to recognise what Republicans had always rightly predicted – that when push came to shove, or even long before that, the British would always see those of native Irish extraction as foreign, less worthy and less deserving of the protection of the state than their “British” countrymen in Unionist Ireland.

    Both were in the end eclipsed by Sinn Fein when their analysis was proven wrong.

    //Hume was one of the first generation of Catholics in the NI state to attend university //

    Actually, there were a few Nationalists who attended Queens in the bad old days, before the 1950s. One was the writer Michael McLaverty (who wrote “The Poteen Maker” and other great short stories that I happened to re-read recently). Another was an odd-ball Gaelgeoir and fascist called, I think, James Cunningham, who had links to Mussolini and the Nazis and set up his own party. Both attended Queens in the 1920s or 30s. I’m sure there were several more.

  30. Actually, there were a few Nationalists who attended Queens in the bad old days, before the 1950s

    Well you should take it up with that Eamonn McCann fella that you speak of above because no other than him claimed it about his former neighbour just this afternoon on Radio Ulster Talkback:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000lg9r

    Both were in the end eclipsed by Sinn Fein when their analysis was proven wrong

    Yep, but it took a public announcement by a Brit Secretary of State to publicly declare ‘no selfish strategic or economic interest’ in the state of NI thanks thanks to the Hume / Adams talks and Albert Reynolds and few years of IRA cessation of violence for that to happen.

  31. You’re right and McCann, and by extension I, am incorrect.

    The Beechmount baird McLaverty attended QUB in the late 20s / early 30s.

  32. Paul, have a look at this queer fellah. Did yeh ever see the like?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gear%C3%B3id_%C3%93_Cuinneag%C3%A1in

  33. What the hell kind of publication is that

    This is the CD Montomery author of the post:

    “Nigel [Farage] suggested I talk to a guy called Chris Montgomery, the party’s chief of staff at Westminster, and see if we could sign them up.”

    Mr Montgomery is a Londonderry-born former journalist who was well known in Conservative and unionist circles in London prior to working for the DUP at Westminster in recent years

    https://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/tycoon-dup-demanded-aps30000-month-back-my-brexit-campaign-1178630

  34. Paul, have a look at this queer fellah. Did yeh ever see the like?

    Jesus!!

  35. Yep, but it took a public announcement by a Brit Secretary of State to publicly declare ‘no selfish strategic or economic interest’ in the state of NI thanks thanks to the Hume / Adams talks and Albert Reynolds and few years of IRA cessation of violence for that to happen.

    that’s the point paul
    Noel is way dunno if he’s bitter or what, but its been a series of incorrect sour and mean spirited comments from him today .. unworthy and to be honest shameful

  36. Paul

    ‘was one of the first generation of Catholics in the NI state to attend university’

    I find that very difficult to accept?
    Have you any evidence?
    I don’t believe that there was ever any law/policy that sought to prevent or ban RC’s from attending University?

  37. Was one of the first generation of Catholics in the NI state to attend university

    I was repeating what Hume’s neighbour Eamonn McCann stated on Talkback today. Noel commented:

    Actually, there were a few Nationalists who attended Queens in the bad old days, before the 1950s. One was the writer Michael McLaverty (who wrote “The Poteen Maker” and other great short stories that I happened to re-read recently). Another was an odd-ball Gaelgeoir and fascist called, I think, James Cunningham, who had links to Mussolini and the Nazis and set up his own party. Both attended Queens in the 1920s or 30s. I’m sure there were several more

    I stated:

    You’re right and McCann, and by extension I, am incorrect.

    The Beechmount baird McLaverty attended QUB in the late 20s / early 30s.

  38. Not having a go Paul.
    Just thought it was a curious thing to write?

  39. John Hume, who I knew, was totally opposed to violent republicanism. He had a vision of how better Ireland could be if the focus was on what unified people rather than what set them against each other. John was intellectually gifted, articulate, educated, well-read, a great conversationalist, a man who was hard to dislike. He made good friends in Ireland, the UK, Europe and the US and there was mutual respect.

    John Hume was a great man and Ireland is a better place because of him. The encomiums are well deserved and are good to read.

    However, it is disgusting that rabid republicans try to grab some share of the praise for Hume for themselves when he reviled them. Rabid republicans should realize that Hume was right and they were/are wrong. While republicans were murdering people and blowing up towns, Hume was in London, Washington and Brussels enlisting valuable help on bring peace to Ireland.

  40. //The Beechmount baird McLaverty//

    Is he known by that in WB, Paul?

    Did you go to St Thomas SC, or would they not let people like you in?

    //Noel is way dunno if he’s bitter or what, but its been a series of incorrect sour and mean spirited comments from him today .//

    Kurt, I admire what Hume did. While there was IMO always something smug about him and a lot of his fellows, he was a great man and I said that.

    But from a political pov he was naive and constantly failed because he didn’t recognise the nature of the Conservative British Unionist Loyalist nexus he was facing.
    He went into Stormont back in the days when it was a sectarian set-up; he actually thought it could be reformed. Later he had to leave.

    He still thought there was a majority within Unionism for the same softly-softly approach he was taking and was gushing in his optimism for Sunningdale. That failed too.
    And so on. Compare to the Adams strategy of driving a wedge between the British government and Unionism, and then splitting Unionism. Adams had less than a fraction of the support, contacts and general goodwill that Hume always enjoyed. But he was a much keener political analyst, and with patience, skill, intrigue and determination he succeeded where Hume failed.
    When Hume took over his party, it was the 2nd of the four major parties in NI, when he left it was the last.

    Of course, it’s a tribute to Hume that he didn’t see success in political, but rather in moral terms. Fair enough, but NI had a very ugly political character and there was no point pretending it was something that it obviously wasn’t.

  41. I largely agree with some of the points you make Noel.

    Hume’s naivité in thinking that the unionism state could be reformed was missplaced and yes, Adams was indeed a more astute political analyst & strategist but none of what was achieved could have been acheived without Hume’s personal integrity, vision and immense presence. And the fact that Hume was prepared to sacrifice party political popularity for relative societal stability and peace speaks volumes.

    IMO always something smug about him and a lot of his fellows

    I was a member of SF for more than twenty years and have known Adams as a family friend since childhood. Gerry certainly isn’t without his moments of smugness.

  42. Ireland just beat world one-day champs England in cricket
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/live/cricket/51418858

  43. I’m just listening to John Hume’s Requiem Mass live on Radio Ulster and my God, John Hume Jr’s eulogy to his late father was an incredibly moving piece.

    If it comes online later I’ll post a link.

  44. Wow!

    Echoes of AMcC:

    Speak of the devil and he shall appear! AMcC’s piece on Hume in AltNews is a joy of schadenfreude and self importance to read:

    https://www.altnewsmedia.net/news/for-hume-the-bell-tolls/

    Being a member of one of the principle anti-agreement Unionist parties

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, Briany Bob used to hold UKUP meeting in phone boxes.

    Is he known by that in WB, Paul?

    It’s what my English teacher used to call him.

    Did you go to St Thomas SC, or would they not let people like you in?

    There were three catchment schools for the lwr/mid Falls/Whiterock/Ballymurphy/Turf Lodge areas Noel, St Peters, St Thomases & Gort Na Mona. St Pete’s traditionally took the lower Falls from Divis to Beechmount, St Tom’s from the mid Falls/St Jameses to the Whiterock and Murph & Gort Na Mona the area around the top of the Whiterock Rd, Turf Lodge, New Barnsley, Dermot Hill, Moyard and the upper parts of the Murph. St Pete’s & St Tom’s while being under the auspices of the CCMS were lay schools while Gort Na Mona was a CBS.

    I went to Gort Na Mona CBS which was considered to be the more ‘snobby’ of the three whereas St Tom’s was considered to be the roughest. As a matter of fact, in the 70s the fourth form of St Toms, (the last year of obligatory education), wasn’t classified into streams based on academic ability but on Provisional & Official IRA Fianna groupings! (absolutely true story).

  45. Paul

    I read that article on ALtmedianews. Its a bit weak compared to the splenetic vitriol Andrew has been capable of. Where does it actually say Andrew is the author ?