Northern Ireland news

Pat Hume was the woman who 'breathed life into Ireland's peace'

Pat Hume, pictured with her late husband, John, passed away at her Derry home yesterday.
Seamus McKinney

PAT Hume was last night described as the woman who “breathed life” into the peace process following her death, aged 83.

The widow of former SDLP leader and Nobel peace laureate John Hume died at home surrounded by family.

In a brief statement they said they were heartbroken.

“Pat died as she lived – surrounded by family, peacefully and generous to the end,” the family said.

Her death comes just over a year after that of her Nobel Peace Prize-winning husband John and led to a flood of tributes from Ireland and beyond.

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described Mrs Hume as "a gracious, determined force behind the achievement of peace in Ireland".

"She and her husband John both made the world a better place and set an example for us all. Sending my condolences to her family."

A former school teacher Mrs Hume was accepted as her husband’s greatest strength and closest advisor.

Throughout their life together, she worked behind the scenes, managing his office and promoting his policies.

Mr Hume died in August last year, also at the age of 83.

As tributes flooded in, current SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood said it was a “simple truth” that without Mrs Hume, there would have been no peace process.

“The compassion, integrity and immense fortitude that defined her incredible character breathed life into our peace over the course of a long campaign that, at times, must have looked like it would never bear fruit. Pat never gave up faith,” the Foyle MP said.

The SDLP leader said she was her husband’s “guiding light” and constant companion who shared the road and eased his burden.

“The scale of his achievement was made possible by the depth of her love. But she was, in her own right, a fierce champion for peace and justice.”

Taoiseach, Michael Martin said: “Alongside her husband, pat made it her life’s work to bring peace and stability to this island, showing huge resilience and courage along the way.”

Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney said Mrs Hume was a “dedicated and important” voice for peaceful change while Sinn Féin president, Mary Lou McDonald said she wished to place on record her respect for Mrs Hume’s important role.

Bishop of Derry, Donal McKeown said Mrs Hume was “brave, courageous and uncompromising”.

South Belfast SDLP MP Claire Hanna said on Twitter: "You’d never meet anyone like her - sharp, warm, decent, fun. Generous with her time and thoughts, made everyone feel valued.."

UUP leader Doug Beattie and Alliance leader Naomi Long also offered their condolences while Ulster Unionist peer Lord Kilclooney said on Twitter:

"She was a real lady and totally opposed to political violence and bitterness. My prayers are for the family circle."

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