John Hume

Bill Clinton pays tribute to John Hume, the man who 'forged peace'

John Hume and former US President Bill Clinton chat during a visit to Derry. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Rebecca Black, Press Association

Former US president Bill Clinton has paid tribute to his peace maker friend John Hume who "forged peace in Northern Ireland".

In a joint statement with his wife Hillary, Mr Clinton described the former SDLP leader as having fought a long war for peace.

"His chosen weapon: an unshakeable commitment to non-violence, persistence, kindness and love. With his enduring sense of honour he kept marching on against all odds towards a brighter future for all the children of Northern Ireland," they said.

"Through his faith in principled compromise, and his ability to see his adversaries as human beings, John helped forge the peace that has held to this day."

Read more: Pressure of John Hume's search for peace laid bare at Greysteel funerals

Mr Clinton and his wife made a high-profile visit to Northern Ireland in 1995 following the IRA ceasefire.

As well as switching on the Christmas lights at Belfast City Hall before huge crowds, the then US president and first lady also travelled to Derry.

Ian Knox cartoon 4/8/20 

"I'll never forget our night in Derry in 1995, with the town square and blocks around full of hopeful faces, walking with him across the Peace Bridge nearly 20 years later, and all of the moments we shared in between," the Clintons said in the joint statement.

"His legacy will live on in every generation of Northern Ireland's young people who make John's choice to live free of the hatred and horror of sectarian violence.

"And it will endure in the hearts of those of us who loved him and will be shaped by his example of the end of our days.

"Our love and prayers are with Pat, their children and grandchildren. May he rest in peace, never losing the twinkle in his eye or the sly smile that lighted our lives."

Woody Johnson, the current US ambassador to the UK also paid tribute to Mr Hume.

He tweeted: "Today, we mourn the passing of John Hume, a courageous leader, devoted to peace. Our thoughts are with Pat, his family, his colleagues and his many friends around the world, including in the United States."

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John Hume