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John Hume tops poll to find ‘Ireland’s Greatest’

The Nobel Laureate tops an RTÉ poll, beating opposition from Bono, Mary Robinson, Michael Collins and James Connolly.

John Hume (left) beat Bono and three others in the final stage of RTÉ's 'Ireland's Greatest' poll.
John Hume (left) beat Bono and three others in the final stage of RTÉ's 'Ireland's Greatest' poll.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Archive

NOBEL LAUREATE John Hume has been announced the winner of a nationwide poll to find ‘Ireland’s Greatest’.

The former leader of the SDLP, who was being championed by Prime Time presenter Miriam O’Callaghan, defeated the challenge of the other finalists Bono, Mary Robinson, Michael Collins and James Connolly.

The finale of the poll took place on last night’s Late Late Show, following five hour-long documentaries in which the case was put forward for each of the candidates. The Irish Times reports that the average viewership for each documentary was 318,400.

The final list of five had been derived from an initial public survey carried out by Ipsos/MRBI, with the top forty figures from that poll being whittled down by public vote.

Michael Collins – being advocated by former Progressive Democrat leader Michael McDowell – finished second in the poll, with Robinson (economist David McWilliams) in third, Connolly (Liveline presenterJoe Duffy) in fourth and Bono (broadcaster Dave Fanning) fifth.

Hume, best known for his work to bridge the sectarian divide in Northern Ireland and in securing the Good Friday Agreement, was a joint recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998 along with then-Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble.

Advocating a public vote for Hume, O’Callaghan had argued that Ireland had been so swept up in the euphoria of securing a lasting piece in the North that it had never stopped to formally thank him for his efforts.

The poll was derided by some, however, as being an ‘X Factor’ version of Irish history. Its results have already been dismissed by Niall O’Dowd, the editor of the Irish emigrant newspaper The Irish Voice, who has argued that Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams is more deserving of the title.

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What did you think of the poll – did it produce a worthy winner, or is it merely a degradation of Irish history?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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