Northern Ireland news

Guard of honour as John Hume returns home to Derry on final journey

John Hume's widow Pat with family members and other mourners as the former SDLP leader's body is brought to St Eugene's Cathedral in Derry

A GUARD of honour lined the path outside St Eugene's Cathedral in Derry last night as John Hume made his final journey to his home city.

Candles flickered from windowsills and doorsteps across Ireland as people joined in a poignant tribute to the former SDLP leader's peacemaking legacy.

The Nobel laureate's funeral Mass will take place at 11.30am today in front of a limited number of mourners due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The funeral service will be broadcast on RTÉ One and live-streamed on BBC.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and President Michael D Higgins are among the dignitaries set to attend, while Derry musician Phil Coulter will at the end play 'The Town I Loved So Well'.

However, Mr Hume's eldest son Aidan, who lives in Boston, is unable to attend due to restrictions as a result of the pandemic.

Mr Hume's body was brought from Moville in Co Donegal to St Eugene's Cathedral yesterday evening.

A socially distanced guard of honour made up of party activists watched as his wicker coffin, carried by mourners wearing face masks, was brought inside.

The guard of honour held candles in line with the family's wishes.

Mr Hume's widow Pat, who also wore a face mask, was comforted as the small group of family members followed the coffin into the cathedral.

In ordinary circumstances, Mr Hume's removal service and funeral would have been expected to draw huge crowds.

But due to the pandemic, his family have urged people to stay at home.

"We know that he would have prioritised public health and the safety and health of our communities," they said.

"We're asking people to follow that guidance – please do not put yourself or others at risk."

Responding to a request from the family, many people across Ireland lit a "candle for peace" last night in tribute to the Nobel Peace Prize winner, with images of their burning candles posted on Twitter.

Among them was the Taoiseach, who wrote online: "Tonight we join together to light a candle for peace and reflect on the huge contribution John Hume made to our society.

"He brought people together and secured peace on this island. He truly was 'Ireland's Greatest'. Thank you John."

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Northern Ireland news