NEWS CENTER - Former SDLP leader and Noble Peace Prize winner John Hume passed away late on Sunday night.
He died after a short illness at the age of 83 after suffering from dementia for many years.
In a statement, Mr Hume’s family said: "John was a husband, a father, a grandfather, a great grandfather and a brother. He was very much loved, and his loss will be deeply felt by all his extended family."
John Hume was born in Derry with an Irish Catholic background. He was a student at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, the leading Catholic seminary in Ireland, where he intended to study for the priesthood.
A founding member of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) in 1970, he succeeded Gerry Fitt as its leader in 1979. He served as a Minister in the Six County administration of 1974 and was elected as Westminster MP for Foyle in 1983.
But as conflict raged in the north of Ireland, it was John Hume’s insistence as SDLP leader on engaging with his party’s chief political opponents, Sinn Féin, which ended the demonisation of republicans and ultimately became the foundation stone for the peace process.
In 1998, after negotiations successfully led to a peace deal in the form of the Good Friday Agreement, he received the Nobel Peace Prize alongside unionist leader David Trimble.
Former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams says John Hume’s decision to meet him for talks in 1986 “was a breakthrough moment in Irish politics” and described the Good Friday Agreement as “a landmark moment for both of us”.
Paying tribute to the Nobel laureate, Mr Adams said he had had “the courage to take real risks for peace”.
Beginning in 1986, the Hume-Adams talks resulted in a number of proposals which were passed to the Dublin government on the understanding they could form the basis for a lasting peace in Ireland. The groundwork had been laid for a ceasefire by the Provisional IRA and the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.