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BBC News Front Page | World | In depth | Northern Ireland

The search for peace
John Hume
Profiles Themes
• Seamus Mallon

• Loyalist splinter threat
• Decommissioning
John Hume
• Anglo-Irish Agreement
• Hume-Adams
• Peace talks
• Good Friday Agreement

• SDLP

Events Parties and paramilitaries
Piece together the puzzle of the Northern Ireland conflict by clicking the related subjects above.


• John Hume accpets the Nobel peace prize, 1998
• John Hume on the Good Friday Agreement, 1998



• SDLP
• John Hume's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech

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John Hume

SDLP president John Hume has been one of the driving forces behind many of the significant attempts to resolve the Northern Ireland problem over the past 30 years. He has been widely credited with bringing unionists and republicans together to make the peace process possible.

A former teacher, Mr Hume first came to prominence through the civil rights movement in the late 1960s, when Catholics demanded substantial changes to the way Northern Ireland was run.

He helped to found the moderate nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party in 1970, taking over as leader in 1979. He became a Member of the European Parliament in the same year.

Mr Hume was a member of the power-sharing executive set up after the Sunningdale Agreement in December 1973 and helped to shape the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985, which for the first time gave Dublin a limited involvement in the affairs of Northern Ireland.

But the most crucial phase of his political career came in 1988 when Mr Hume began a series of contacts with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams. These were to prove crucial in developing the current process.

Further talks became public in 1993 amid considerable controversy and hostility, especially from unionists. In defiant mood, Mr Hume declared he did not care "two balls of roasted snow" about all the criticism he faced.

He has been a tireless and complete opponent of violent action in Northern Ireland, beit carried out by the IRA, security forces or loyalist paramilitaries.

But at the same time, Mr Hume said that any talks about the future of Northern Ireland had to be as inclusive as possible if all sections of the community and Dublin and London were to find some agreement.

He went on to campaign vigorously for a Yes vote in the referendum on the agreement, symbolically sharing a stage with Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble and Bono of U2 in an effort to swing wavering unionists behind the agreement.

In 1998 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with David Trimble. However, the political rise of Sinn Fein has also exercised his mind - reachest its most serious point when the republicans overtook his party in the 2001 general election.


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