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If you like John Hume's story, you might also like:
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Millard Fuller,
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John Lewis,
George Mitchell,
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and Elie Wiesel

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John Hume
John Hume
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John Hume Profile

Nobel Prize for Peace

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  John Hume

"Over the years, the barriers of the past -- the distrust and prejudices of the past -- will be eroded, and a new society will evolve, a new Ireland based on agreement and respect for difference."

In the last 30 years, political violence in Northern Ireland has claimed over 3,500 lives, but John Hume never abandoned the quest for a peaceful solution. Inspired by the example of Martin Luther King, Jr., the young ex-seminarian led a nonviolent civil rights movement in his home town of Derry. As a founder and head of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, as a Member of the European Parliament, and as a member of Britain's House of Commons, he has worked continuously for peace, tolerance and international cooperation.

He set aside partisan differences to meet with rival parties, and braved the ancient sectarian divide to negotiate with Unionist leaders in talks which led to the 1993 Joint Declaration by Britain and Ireland, and the 1994 cease-fire agreement between the IRA and Unionist paramilitaries. The 1998 Good Friday agreement, ratified overwhelmingly by voters in Ireland, North and South, reflects principles John Hume has followed for his entire public life.

His efforts were recognized when he and the Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998. These men dared to look past centuries of conflict in their country and imagine a future where people of all religions can live together in peace and freedom.

David Trimble Profile

Nobel Prize for Peace

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David Trimble built his political career, and became leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, as a determined advocate of continued union with Great Britain, opposing any role for the Irish government in the affairs of Northern Ireland, but as party leader he was willing to take extraordinary chances for peace, repeatedly risking the support of his constituents to win their support for the peace process.

Soon after his election as party leader, he angered many supporters by agreeing to meet leaders of the Republic of Ireland. Although more than half of his parliamentary colleagues initially opposed the Good Friday Agreement, Trimble won the support of the Unionist community and brought his party into the peace process.

After the agreement took effect, he served as First Minister of a new Northern Ireland Assembly, taking further risks by resolutely insisting on disarmament by the region's paramilitaries as a precondition for further negotiation. "The goal (of peace) is worth it," he said. "The goal is worth taking risks."

His courage was noted by the Nobel Prize Committee when, along with John Hume, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. "As the head of the Northern Ireland government," the Committee noted, "he has taken the first steps towards building up the mutual confidence on which a lasting peace must be based."

This page last revised on Oct 24, 2009 12:57 EDT
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