John Hume

Eloquent, humorous and passionate, John Hume became a leading figure in the Irish civil rights movement in the late 1960s, inspiring and leading demonstrations for civil rights for Catholics in Northern Ireland. In 1970 he and his associates founded the Social Democratic and Labour Party, a moderate political party that rapidly grew in size. In January 1982 he was a leader of a non-violent march for civil rights; the British Army opened fire on the protesters, shooting 28 unarmed protesters and killing 14, in an event that became known as Bloody Sunday.

In 1983 Hume became a Member of Parliament. In 1985 he initiated private talks with Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Féin, the political arm of the IRA, the Irish Republican Army. When the talks became public in 1993, both men were subjected to ferocious criticism, and physical attacks were made on the homes of SDLP members.

John Hume went on to architect the 1998 Good Friday Accord, which included the disarming of the IRA and essentially brought an end to the Troubles in Ireland.

Hume formally retired from politics in 2004. On retirement he was praised across the political divide. In the words of former U.S. President Clinton, John Hume was “Ireland’s most tireless champion for civil rights and its most eloquent spokesman for peace.”

John Hume passed away on August 3, 2020.