Posted by: Tony Shannon | August 30, 2020

John Hume- an appreciation

Having grown up on the fringes of what was in effect a civil war, I have to mark the passing of the man who brought peace to this place.

When I was growing up in Ireland in the 1980s , it was a tough and hard place at times. The nightly news brought updates on the ongoing turmoil that was happening during The Troubles of the 1980s and the shocking senseless killings at that time became almost part of the routine. It was miserable at times and deeply sad.

The root of the problem was a division on this island between Catholics and Protestant, their religion and their culture.
As I recall of my time in the NorthEast of England when I worked between Newcastle and Sunderland, and I struggled to spot an iota of difference between the people in those fine cities (bar their accents which I still struggle to differentiate), folk can share 99%+ of their DNA, language, culture, etc etc but they tend to focus on what divides them ( in the NE of England , that is their football team).
In many ways so it was in Ireland at that time. Yes there were real important differences and injustices but the pity was that to some on either side of a fence, the other side were seen as the enemy.

John Hume who grew up in Derry/LondonDerry was different to others at that time. He knew deep down that the people of Northern Ireland shared much more than divided them , so he sought to build a bridge between them and work for peace..

For year after year, decade after decade, this message was the same, violence was not the answer and any divided factions have to negotiate compromise and peace. For many years we admired his tireless efforts and wondered how he kept going.

Those of us who call Ireland our home owe John Hume a great debt.

After decades of tireless advocacy , as well as very smart and important moves to establish the credit union movement in Ireland , plus linking the troubles/struggles to the Civil Rights movement in the US, a breakthrough came in the 1990s, a peace was negotiated, the Good Friday Agreement was signed, arms laid to rest and the civil war of that time came to an end.

When I was a young boy I recall driving up through the armed border from the “South” to the “North” of Ireland and a military helicopter sweeping down into a nearby field , soldiers jumping out, stopping our car, questioning my mother, before we were moved on and our trip to go shopping continued.
In recent years I have enjoyed some beautiful drives through Northern Ireland to visit its scenic Causeway Coast and instead the place was full of peace and open space.

We give thanks to John Hume for that.

May he Rest In Peace.


Responses

  1. Amen!


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