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Hume's legacy of unity

Letters to the Editor


John Hume

John Hume

John Hume

Sir - The well-deserved international coverage of John Hume's passing should help put an end to the schemers and propagators of a false history of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Unfortunately Mr Hume's honesty and integrity subsequently led to a weakening in support for his own party and the rise in popularity of Sinn Féin. Most would argue that the end result was all that really mattered and the relative peace we now enjoy is a credit to Mr Hume's honest brokerage. That said, the divide in community relations has remained as strained as ever.

Today's Ireland is a different place. Social media has become the new area of verbal combat and the prize at stake could well be the governance of the entire country.

How badly we need leaders with John Hume's fortitude and courage. Leaders who mean what they say and say what they mean. We can but hope that the good guys get their act together and take on what John Hume started.

The template has been shaped by the great man from Derry. No longer will a free rein of unsupported smears be accepted as fact by the majority of fair-minded people, be they nationalist or unionist.

Power in the hands of unscrupulous nationalists of any hue would be a disaster. As the great man himself has always believed: unity of minds is a prerequisite for true peace. How right he was.

Niall Ginty,

Killester, Dublin 5


Peacemaker never quit on his dream

Sir - I enjoyed two of my favourite columnists in last week's Sunday Independent as usual, and was in agreement with most of what Jody Corcoran and Eoghan Harris wrote. The death of one of Ireland's greatest ever people should not go by without comment - and how much I admired and respected what John Hume did, having lived through our troubled times.

Watching some of the footage on TV prior to the actual funeral was difficult and emotional. John Hume, like Martin Luther King, 'had a dream' of peace with social justice for all in Ireland. He worked tirelessly with his wife Pat - the love of his life - to do that.

So many berated him for what he was doing in talking with Gerry Adams and the IRA in trying to negotiate peace. But as a true statesman, a peacemaker, a politician who cared for his city of Derry and all the people of Ireland, he never gave up.

He was also a teacher who saw a future in having a United Ireland, but mainly wanted a united people. He taught us all a lot about how helping one another is much more beneficial. A very brave man who had a vision of peace in our land with killing and blood-spilling not being the way forward.

John Hume most definitely was not in it for money or glory, just helping his fellow man with incredible focus on his objectives. Indeed, he gave away to charity his Nobel Peace Prize money.

He saw that families needed a roof over their heads, a liveable wage and a right to borrow at realistic interest rates, hence he started the Credit Union.

It was very sad that due to his ill health he did not see all the benefits of his work.

At the funeral ceremony his son John Hume Jr said he was "Derry's greatest ambassador to the world" - but maybe he was Ireland's, too.

As a person who lived through the dark horrendous times, I thank you, John Hume, for all you did, for me and my family, all whose lives you saved and for Ireland. Rest in peace, Nobel Laureate.

Ken Maher,

Kilcoole, Co Wicklow


Greater good was sole motivation

Sir - With the passing of the late, great John Hume, Ireland has lost a giant. A peacemaker supreme. He fought the good fight all his life, until he had no more to give. What a man.

He was highly respected and revered the world over for his unstinting work for peace in his troubled homeland. He came from humble beginnings, in the town he loved so well, but educated himself to be able to converse with kings, queens, popes and presidents in his quest to end the long-running bloody conflict in Northern Ireland.

Never a politician to seek the limelight or squabble over high remuneration, he had a higher calling, that of the greater good of his fellow man.

A deep thinker, he was behind many political developments in his troubled homeland - the Sunningdale Agreement, the Anglo-Irish Agreement, and last but not least the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, which brought peace at last after a long, hard struggle. The same year he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

In his lighter moments he enjoyed a pint, a bit of good-humoured banter, and of course a good Derry song.

Now the music's gone but they carry on

For their spirit's been bruised never broken

They will not forget but their hearts are set

On tomorrow and peace once again

For what's done is done and what's won is won

And what's lost is lost and gone forever

I can only pray for a bright, brand new day

In the town I loved so well.

We all hope and pray you have at last found your bright, brand new day, in the place you deserve so well.

Tom Towey,

Cloonacool, Co Sligo


This is like losing a personal friend

Sir - John Hume's passing hit me like a bolt out of the blue last week, leaving me with a sadness, as though a close personal friend had passed, even though I'd never met him in person.

It is disturbing, almost to a point of despair, to view contemporary political leadership, especially on the world stage, through the prism of John Hume's legacy. However, I must not despair, the great man would never so accept.

I have been privileged to live in his era.

Michael Gannon,

St Thomas' Square, Kilkenny


Let's not forget other key players

Sir - John Hume was not solely responsible for bringing about the peace process, despite the claims by some commentators on his passing. He was indeed a key factor in the process, which no one could deny, but so were many others in tandem and equally meritorious.

Unionist leaders - such as David Trimble - and even unionism itself took a giant leap of faith and risked alienating their own support.

However, we are still told it was all down to John. Well it wasn't and it is arrogant and insulting to others to say it was. Back-breaking efforts were made by hundreds of people and even foreign governments weighed in to bring about a lasting settlement.

It was never down to any one person to accept the prize of peacemaker when it could be argued that everybody who stuck their necks out for the Belfast Agreement should also get a Nobel Peace Prize.

John Hume was a peacemaker, but also a potent antagonist in his more vibrant days in refusing to recognise the British government in Northern Ireland.

He did this notably in sit-down protests and face-to-face with British soldiers on the front line in heated exchanges.

According to Gerry Adams in one of his many books, John Hume and the then leader of Sinn Féin met quite by accident in Donegal and began a dialogue between the hardline republican movement and moderate nationalism.

From then on many others stepped in to make it all happen - people like Seamus Mallon and Lord Alderdice, to mention only the very few who made the peace process happen.

So, let's not go over the top in extolling a man when so many other factors were needed to create the building blocks of a civilised society. To do so betrays a disrespect to others who sacrificed just as much.

The peace process will go on without John Hume as it has with other political giants who have passed away. His death marks the passing of an important and eventful era in Anglo-Irish relations and one can only hope, with the efforts of all and a new generation, that the Troubles will permanently be a thing of the past.

Maurice Fitzgerald,

Shanbally, Co Cork


Pat is a paragon of dignity and respect

Sir - They say behind every good man there's a good woman, and this was so evident all through John Hume's life and at his funeral, where his wife Pat shone in her dignity and respect.

Her husband was a genuine man of peace. John showed there was a better way through dialogue and respect.

He created the peace so that others would live; he wore the badge in his heart and mind.

John Hume, may you rest in the peace that you created.

Una Heaton,

North Circular Rd, Limerick


Heaven gains a true inspiration

Sir - I notice that most people have ended their tributes to John Hume with the words 'may he rest in peace'.

But that man was a worker. All his life. And no matter in what way or where he now exists, he will not be resting in peace. He will be busy - busy completing his life's work of bringing peace with justice to this country.

The example of his life will inspire peacemakers in other lands not to give up in spite of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Brendan Butler,

Malahide, Co Dublin


Island of Ireland should be grateful

Sir -He is gone from us, this giant of a man. However, we must be thankful for having him at a time when he was sorely needed.

Other such people have come forward when they were most needed. People of courage, tenacity, caring. They stood tall, unflinching, unafraid in the face of adversity - Gandhi , Mother Teresa, Mandela - they were his peers, and we honour his memory.

Michael O Meara,

Killarney, Co Kerry


Brolly attack on life coaches 'shocking'

Sir -I regularly access the independent.ie site as I have deemed it trustworthy and informative and has a really good balance of news, lifestyle and well-being information. And the Sunday Independent is also my Sunday newspaper of choice. However, I was shocked at the recent article by Joe Brolly on life coaches.

Life has thrown me some curve balls and as I can struggle some days, it is a breath of fresh air to have the encouragement of life coaches, especially Tara Rafter. Is it not a great skill of theirs if they can provide some guidance and reassurance for people that are going through a difficult time? How is it OK to attack the entire profession - and one person in particular?

Like every profession I'm sure there are those that are good at their job and some not so good, so to tarnish an entire profession with one brush is rather harsh.

I'm actively teaching my children to always be kind and not bully and report bullying, with the support of their school and teachers. However, it is horrible to think a national newspaper can launch a personal attack on one person. That's bullying too, would you not agree?

Our lives are difficult enough, especially at present, so please don't dismiss as nonsense a source of comfort and reassurance for so many people.

I understand that you must have a balanced source of information and news.

In a world where you can be anything, be kind.


Cork (full name with editor)


Criticism too late for GK Chesterton

Sir - Joe Brolly is in august company when in his column 'Con job based on bonkers premise' (Sunday Independent, August 2) he pours scorn on the gurus of life coaching.

GK Chesterton's essay, written in 1909, The Fallacy of Success, is based on the same theme.

He refers to the literature about success as "the silliest ever known among men" and goes on to write that "our modern world is full of books about success and successful people which literally contain no kind of idea and scarcely any kind of verbal sense".

He did entertain the hope that he would live to see the demise of this ridiculous genre: "At least let us hope that we live to see these absurd books about success covered with a proper derision and neglect."

He was wildly optimistic, but only in terms of the timescale. Joe's article could hardly have been more derisive, but written far too late for Chesterton, who died in 1939.

Jim O'Connell,

Blackhorse Ave, Ashtown


Stick to what you know about, Joe

Sir - It often amazes how people, when they run out of something to talk about in their chosen speciality, they set themselves up as experts in something they more often than not know very little about.

For the last three Sundays Joe Brolly has laid into people who practise alternative-type treatments and the people who give them.

He correctly points out that some of these are manipulative money-making machines - but why did we have to read about it for three weeks where good practices were tarred with same brush?

A lot of people have benefited from alternative medicine and continue to do so, and it's not for Mr Brolly to become judge and jury on something that he obviously hasn't opened his mind to considering.

Nothing wrong with that - we all make our own choices. He even managed to bring his "good deed" into last week's piece.

It isn't all about life coaches making plenty of money travelling around to club and county teams.

I speak for myself as someone who has benefited greatly from one of Joe's perceived hocus-pocus treatments.

Stick to what you are good at, Joe, and let's get back to what you know.

Tony Sheehan,


Sunday Independent