Northern Ireland must “keep faith” with the principles of former SDLP leader John Hume if it is to provide a better future for its children, former assembly member Dawn Purvis has said.
Ms Purvis' comments appear in an article in The Irish News today marking the 25th anniversary of the presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize to the late Mr Hume and former Ulster Unionist leader, the late Lord David Trimble.
The two leaders were presented with the award in Oslo on December 10 1998, 25 years ago on Sunday.
Former PUP MLA, Ms Purvis described Mr Hume and Lord Trimble as the “quiet peacemakers” who accepted the 1998 award on behalf of the people of Northern Ireland and Ireland. These were the ordinary men and women who, “even in the darkest days of the Troubles”, preached a message of peace, tolerance and respect for difference.
Ms Purvis, who is chairwoman of the John and Pat Hume Foundation, said: “It is time to recapture the spirit of 1998. The John and Pat Hume Foundation for Peaceful Change and Reconciliation has tried to play our part, not only in protecting the legacy of John and Pat Hume but to continue their journey of reconciliation and inspire leadership for peaceful change.”
A renewed commitment to peace and reconciliation through civic and political effort was needed to tackle current and future challenges, she said.
“It is welcome that John Hume’s words and principles continue to be an example and inspiration for those in other places trying to overcome injustice, inequality, indifference or inertia as they work to end or avert conflict.”
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Ms Purvis added: “It is our duty to keep faith with the Hume principles, keep his dream alive and inspire current and emerging courageous leaders for peaceful change, at home and in conflicts internationally, who will chart a better way forward and build a more just and prosperous future for all our children.”