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Dublin: 14°C Monday 21 September 2020

John Hume's family ask public to 'light a candle for peace' tonight

His family asked people to light a candle at 9pm in their homes or at their doors.

John Hume in 2002.
John Hume in 2002.
Image: Gareth Chaney/Photocall Ireland!

THE FAMILY OF the late John Hume have said the politician and Irish peace leader would have “prioritised public health” ahead of his funeral tomorrow. 

The SDLP founder, who spent his life and career campaigning for civil rights, died yesterday.

A statement released on behalf of his family asked people to “light a candle for peace” at 9pm this evening in their homes or at their doors. 

Hume’s body will leave Moville in Donegal at 7.30pm this evening and return to St Eugene’s Cathedral after 8.30pm.

His funeral will take place at 11.30am tomorrow and will be broadcast on RTÉ television and radio. 

“John loved the people of Derry and Donegal,” the family statement said.

“The heartfelt and sincere condolences that we have received from people across the island, but particularly from the communities John loved being a part of, have been immensely comforting to us.”

“We know that he would have prioritised public health and the safety and health of our communities. We’re asking people to follow that guidance, please do not put yourself or others at risk.” 

Hume was one of the primary architects of the Good Friday Agreement and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in 1998.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu has opened a book of condolence online for people to express their sympathies to Hume’s family.

The book of condolence, which is available to sign online through Dublin City Council, will close on 10 August.

The flag at the top of the Mansion House in Dublin will also fly at half-mast from today until Wednesday as a mark of respect for Hume. 

Former US Senator George Mitchell, who chaired the multi-party negotiations which led to the Good Friday Agreement, described Hume as a “visionary”. 

Speaking to RTÉ radio, Mitchell said: “John conceived the architecture of the thoughts that made it possible for the two sides to sit down and advance on all issues.” 

Mitchell said it was “hard to put oneself back in an era in which there was so much violence”, describing Hume as a “powering figure” during that time. 

He said Hume had the ability to look ahead and see the circumstances under which peace could be reached. 

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US presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden offered his condolences for Hume, a “great man of peace”.

“John Hume committed his life to the principles of nonviolence, and through his faith, statesmanship, and perseverance, he helped bring Northern Ireland through the Troubles to a better tomorrow,” Biden said in a statement. 

“May his leadership and the example of his life continue to inspire future generations of peacemakers and patriots to create a world more grounded in civil rights, tolerance, equality, and democratic freedoms.” 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Hume played a “profoundly important role” in the transition from violence to peace in Northern Ireland.

“Throughout his career, John Hume believed that just and lasting political solutions could only be achieved through peaceful means, and as a central architect of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement he worked tirelessly to make these aspirations a reality,” Pompeo said.

“His early and sustained influence in bringing US political and economic support to Northern Ireland cannot be overstated, and this profound partnership and friendship continues today.”

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