John Hume: ‘When I was in jail my IRA comrades said we should shoot him... but now I admire the man’

A former Provo killer has told of how his view of Mr Hume had changed over time, from seeing him as a “traitor” to admiring him for the “consistent” nature of his non-violent views.

Tuesday, 4th August 2020, 11:55 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th August 2020, 11:32 am
John Hume in 1985

Anthony McIntyre, a former Belfast IRA member (now aged 63 and living in Drogheda) said: “During the Troubles I thought he was a waste of space, because we had this arrogant attitude and intolerance of difference.

“We were hostile towards people who were critical of us. By and large we bought into the kind of elitist, exclusive mentality, and we bought into the concept that John Hume was just like all the other traitors that had gone before him.”

Mr McIntyre, who served a prison term for killing a UVF man, is today a strong critic of Sinn Fein, and his opinion of Mr Hume is quite different.

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“Our attitude to the SDLP was that they were spineless – when in fact they weren’t.

“Many of them took great risks. My view of Hume has changed over the years, completely evolved.

“I’d hold him in a large amount of esteem now.”

He said that while he was in prison, his comrades “were advocating that we should shoot him”.

This was never carried out “because it was a strategically bad thing, not because it was morally wrong – that’s not how we thought in those days“.

Mr McIntyre added: “I think he basically held to a position and advocated a position that our leadership later took up. They took it up more for career terms, opportunist terms, and made a very radical change.

“Hume would be a guy who was pretty consistent in what he said, and pretty consistent in the values that he’d held to.

“And the Good Friday Agreement in many ways was the outworking of what he believed in.

“I’d look at Hume now in a way I didn’t look at him many years ago.

“I always felt that Hume’s problem was Sinn Fein were ready to vampirise his ideas and colonise his constituency, which they have done successfully.

“Adams sailed on the Hume ship, until he managed to become the captain of it.”

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