Hume, John

Hume, John, 1937–2020, Northern Irish political leader. A moderate Catholic, he devoted his career to the peaceful settlement of sectarian conflicts in his homeland. Hume began by seeking to improve the economic situation of Catholics in Derry (Londonderry) in the 1960s, and became involved in Catholic civil-rights marches. A founding member (1970) of the nonsectarian, nonviolent Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), Hume was a member of Northern Ireland's parliament (1969–72) and assembly (1972–73). Leader of the SDLP (1979–2001), he was elected to the European parliament in 1979 (retiring in 2004) and to the British parliament in 1983 (retiring in 2005). Despite severe criticism, he held talks (1988–93) with Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Féin, which resulted in the Hume-Adams Initiative, a basis for multiparty peace talks and the 1994 cease-fire. Hume, Adams, and the pro-British Ulster Unionist party leader David Trimble later participated in multicountry negotiations that resulted in the historic 1998 peace agreement. Hume subsequently (1998–2000) served as a member of the new Northern Irish assembly. He and Trimble were co-recipients of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize; Hume was also awarded the 2001 Gandhi Peace Prize.

See biographies by B. White (1985) and P. Routledge (1997); G. Murray, John Hume and the SDLP (1998).

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