Praise for peacemaker Hume at launch to honour politician
Many people are still alive in the North today because of John Hume's tireless pursuit of peace, a gathering of his friends, former colleagues and politicians from home and abroad heard at the launch of a new book about his personal life and career.
His SDLP colleague and former government minister here Austin Currie, who wrote a chapter in the book, said Hume was "certainly no saint" and that he had many disagreements with the Nobel peace prize winner.
He said he had "many reservations" about bringing Ian Paisley and Sinn Fein into the peace process, but said he was finally won over by Hume's belief it would end the violence in Northern Ireland.
"He maintained over many years it would save people's lives," he said at the launch of the book titled 'John Hume - Irish Peacemaker'.
He added the "greatest tribute" he could pay "to John Hume is that there are many, many people who are living today" as a result of his dedication to the peace process.
Later he added: "As far as leadership is concerned I would put him in the league of O'Connell and (Charles Stewart) Parnell and that's the highest tribute I can make."
Tom Arnold, the director general of the Institute of International and European Affairs, where the book was launched last night, said John Hume was "the political hero of our lifetime."
There were also warm tributes paid to John Hume's wife Pat who recently spoke movingly about her husband's battle with dementia.
The Hume family was represented by John's son John Junior, who said his father's illness had been "tough" on the family but said they took solace from the fact he is "actually pretty happy right now".
He said his mother Pat had taken ill and so was unable to attend the launch but was happy to report she was recovering well.
He also thanked broadcaster, Miriam O'Callaghan, who officially launched the book, for the recent interview she conducted with his mother.
The RTÉ star said John Hume was the only interviewee she has "felt guilty" about putting pressure on because of his dedication to peace and because of the toll his work took on his family's life.
Among the book's contributors is former US President Bill Clinton who worked with Hume during the peace process and wrote the foreword to the book.
He described him as "a man of great conviction and infinite patience".
Among those in attendance at the launch were the book's editors Sean Farren and Denis Haughey as well as some of the contributors who include Seán Donlon, Mark Durkan and Marianne Elliott.