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Hume bust in bastion of unionism

Published 26/09/2012

Bimpe Archer

A BUST of iconic nationalist leader John Hume is to take pride of place in a bastion of hardline unionism.

A bust of the former SDLP leader is to be displayed in the mayor's official parlour at Ballymena Borough Council's offices.

SDLP leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell last night presented a bust of his famous predecessor to the town's first ever nationalist mayor, PJ McAvoy, for display.

The council was until recent times regarded as the heartland of hardline unionism, in particular a stronghold for the DUP and its former firebrand leader Ian Paisley.

Alderman McAvoy, who made history when he was elected in June, said he was "delighted" to receive the bust of his political hero.

"When I was first approached with a view to representing the SDLP as a councillor, back in 1985, it was the message and leadership of John Hume that inspired me to accept," he said.

"Ever since, I have tried to live by his principle of working for all the people and I have continued that as mayor of Ballymena.

"This bust will be viewed by all my guests in the mayor's parlour and I hope that they will be equally inspired by John Hume's political legacy."

Dr McDonnell said it was fitting that the bust, which is usually kept at the party's headquarters, should be moved to the previously unionist-controlled council.

"At this time of considerable disagreement, both politically and at times on our streets, the call by John Hume to work together in partnership in order to overcome our differences must be made a reality," he said.