Tim Attwood: Happy 80th to John Hume – a beacon for peace

John Hume
John Hume
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It is a sad irony that in the week that the institutions in the North collapse in acrimony and rancour, the man who towered over the chaos of the Troubles celebrates his 80th birthday.

John Hume was a shining beacon for peace, tolerance and accommodation for forty years. Even in the darkest of days John never lost faith in the primacy of politics and used non-violent constitutional means to chart a new future in the North and on the island.

Nearly 20 years ago, with courage and bravery he fashioned the ideas at the core of the Good Friday Agreement.

The GFA remains his crowning glory and is a testament to his vision, leadership and negotiation skills. The ambition and hopes of the GFA may be under serious strain today.

The best way to honour his 80th birthday is for all of us reaffirm our pledge to the spirit of generosity and respect at the heart of the agreement.

As John Hume said in his Nobel speech, let us build a new Ireland based “on respect for diversity and for political difference.

A future where all can rejoice in cherished aspirations and beliefs and where this can be a badge of honour, not a source of fear or division.”

Tim Attwood, SDLP councillor, West Belfast