Clinton hails the 'infinite patience' of friend Hume
Published 02/12/2015 | 02:30
Former US President Bill Clinton has paid a warm tribute to his long-time friend John Hume, whom he described as "a man of great conviction and infinite patience."
In the foreword to a new book on the former SDLP leader - 'John Hume - Irish Peacemaker' - which was launched in Dublin last night, Mr Clinton details how Mr Hume played a leading role in bringing peace to the North.
"John stood at the forefront of Northern Ireland's non-violent civil rights movement, working patiently to gather support for a political solution, and re-framing the debate surrounding Northern Ireland's future to make it possible," wrote the former president.
"He helped both unionists and nationalists see that peace was not a zero-sum game and that the option for self-determination could help both sides advance the causes they cared about together.
"Moreover, John understood that peace built on a strong economic future would be more durable than one built on uncertainty and division.
As John often said, 'We must learn to spill our sweat, not our blood.'" Mr Clinton added: "During the course of our long friendship, I saw in John what so many others had - a man of great conviction and infinite patience who believed deeply in the ultimate capacity of the other side to compromise given the right conditions and concessions."
He suggested that it may have been due to Mr Hume's early years studying for the priesthood, or his work in establishing the North's first credit union, that he had "one of the most highly developed senses for the potential of partnerships to effect positive change".
"His unwavering belief in the possibility of unity helped everyone involved in the peace process - my administration included - weather the volatility and uncertainty of years of negotiations," wrote Mr Clinton.