By Bill Heaney
BBC Scotland news is reporting today that three major international peace prizes awarded to the late John Hume have been given to the people of Derry.
Mr Hume is the only person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, the Martin Luther King Jnr Non-Violent Prize and the Mahatma Gandhi Peace Prize.
His family gifted the awards to Derry City and Strabane District Council at Derry’s Guildhall on Friday.
Mr Hume’s wife, Pat, said it was right for the people of his home city “to share these peace awards”.
It is planned for Mr Hume’s awards to go on public display in the city.
John Hume’s daughter, Mo Hume, said the decision to gift the prestigious awards to the people of Derry “was really the only thing to do”.
‘A Derryman to his core’
“These [awards] were never, in his own words, prizes for him, they were a recognition of the peace process and a recognition of the hugely important, often quiet, work that people did on the island of Ireland,” Ms Hume told BBC Radio Foyle.
“We want them on permanent display in Derry so that people can see them, remember them and also remember dad,” she said.
Ms Hume highlighted the special relationship her father and their family shared with the people of the city.
“Anyone who knew my dad knew that he was a Derryman to his core and he was hugely proud of his home town.
“As a family, we were very supported by the people of Derry, especially as my dad’s dementia became more apparent in his latter years,” Ms Hume said.
Ms Hume said she hoped the people of Derry who viewed the awards would “take up the challenge that he and so many of his generation set down to build a sustainable peace on the island of Ireland”.
One of the highest-profile politicians in Northern Ireland for more than 30 years, Mr Hume helped create the climate that brought an end to the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
He was widely admired for his steadfast commitment to peaceful, democratic politics during three decades of violence in Northern Ireland.
A founding member and former leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), he played a major role in the peace talks that led to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with the then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, David Trimble.
He received the Martin Luther King Jnr Non-Violent Prize the following year and the Mahatma Gandhi Peace Prize in 2002.
“On receipt of the Nobel Peace Laureate, the Martin Luther King Jnr Non-Violent Prize and the Mahatma Gandhi Peace Prize, John said he accepted each award with a tremendous sense of honour,” said Mrs Hume.
“Although John built alliances for peaceful change in Ireland, at Westminster, in Brussels and in Washington DC, he always remained rooted in Derry. We believe it is right for the people of Derry to have the opportunity to share these peace awards”.
Mr Hume died in August 2020 following a long period of illness.
He was of course known to many Scots, who attended the Humbert International Summer School in Co Mayo, of which he was patron, and where he revealed that his forebears had connections with Paisley.
John Hume and friends at the Humbert International Summer School in Ballina, Co Mayo.