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Thursday, December 10, 1998 Published at 15:01 GMT

Leaders promise to build on peace

David Trimble and John Hume receiving their awards

Northern Ireland's First Minister David Trimble and SDLP leader John Hume have been awarded the Nobel Peace prize.

The BBC's Denis Murray: "A powerful moment for politicians, process and people"
But the decommissioning process, which has become a major stumbling block to further progress, hung over the ceremony in Oslo City Hall.

Mr Trimble and Mr Hume used the ceremony to re-commit themselves to the peace process.

[ image: David Trimble: Called for decomissioning]
David Trimble: Called for decomissioning
Yet both men pointed out they were being rewarded for an uncompleted journey.

Mr Hume, speaking before an international audience which included the King and Queen of Norway, said the prize belonged to the ordinary people of Ireland, especially Northern Ireland, who had "lived and suffered with the conflict".

He also paid respect to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Irish President Bertie Ahern, former senator George Mitchell, President Bill Clinton and Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam among other leaders.

He described how the European Union was the best example in the world of conflict resolution.

He said: "All conflict is about difference, whether the difference is your race, your religion or about your nationality."

But respect for diversity was the most fundamental aspect of peace, he said.

"All of us are asked to respect the views of others," said Mr Hume.

Quoting Martin Luther King, he closed his speech by telling the audience: "We shall overcome."

[ image: The two leaders with Francis Sejersted, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee]
The two leaders with Francis Sejersted, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee
He said everyone involved in the peace process must now forge a future of change.

Mr Hume pleaded for the communities in Northern Ireland to build on the Good Friday Agreement to create an era of harmony.

But Mr Trimble, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, said real peace needed the disposal of weapons.

He said he had not asked the IRA to hand over all its weapons and Semtex. But he said they must declare that "the war is over" and give proof by beginning to disarm.

Mr Trimble said: "Common sense dictates that I cannot forever convince society that real peace is at hand if there is not a beginning to the decommissioning of weapons as an earnest of the decommissioning of hearts that must follow."

He warned further delay would reinforce doubts on whether "Sinn Fein are drinking from the clear stream of democracy, or is still drinking from the dark stream of fascism".

He added: "Plenty of space has been given to the paramilitaries. Now, winter is here, and there is still no sign of spring."

[ image: The pair recommited themselves to peace]
The pair recommited themselves to peace
Mr Trimble said: "We have a peace in Ireland. But it is still something of an armed peace.

"It may seem strange that we receive the reward of a race run while the race is still not quite finished. But the paramilitaries are finished.

"But the politics are not finished. It is the bedrock to which all society returns."

Francis Sejersted, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said: "We all know that there are still major problems to be faced."

He told the two men they were "foremost among the many who have placed themselves at the service of peace in and outside Northern Ireland".

Mr Sejersted said: "Without Mr Hume there would have been no peace process, without Mr Trimble there would have been no agreement."

The wives of the two men, Pat Hume and Daphnie Trimble, and their children sat proudly in the front row of the audience when the awards were presented.

The Nobel peace prize comes with a cash award of 7.6m Swedish kronor - worth 570,779.

It is the second time the prize has gone to Northern Ireland. In 1977 it was awarded to Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan, co-founders of the Peace People, which mobilised massive rallies in Belfast calling for an end to the violence.

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