Irish politician and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume has died at 83, his family said Monday.
Hume is best known for fashioning an agreement to end violence in his native Northern Ireland. A Catholic leader of the moderate Social Democratic and Labor Party (SDLP) of Northern Ireland, Hume shared the 1998 Nobel with David Trimble, the first minister of Northern Ireland at the time, for their roles securing the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement.
The agreement ended three decades of violence that left at least 3,500 people dead.
Hume was born in 1937 in Northern Ireland’s second city, Derry, or Londonderry to Irish nationalists and British unionists, respectively. Before his political career, he trained for the priesthood and was an advocate of nonviolence throughout his life.
Hume saw the decline of the nationalist movement in Northern Ireland and pushed for self-government for the British-ruled province, with input from all parties. He had hoped eventually to achieve a union with the Irish Republic. Though he believed in equal representation in what was then a Protestant-ruled state, he condemned the Irish Republican Army (IRA)’s violent actions.
“Ireland is not a romantic dream. It is not a flag. It is 4.5 million people divided into two powerful traditions," Hume said. “The solution will be found not on the basis of victory for either, but on the basis of agreement and a partnership between both. The real division of Ireland is not a line drawn on the map but in the minds and hearts of its people.”
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson extended his condolences to Hume’s family on Monday, calling the late Nobelist a “political giant.”
John Hume was quite simply a political giant. He stood proudly in the tradition that was totally opposed to violence and committed to pursuing his objectives by exclusively peaceful and democratic means.— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) August 3, 2020
Hume announced his complete retirement from politics on Feb. 4, 2004. His death Monday came after years of ill health, his family acknowledged.