Northern Ireland news

Leaders pay tribute to Pat Hume's "strength and wisdom"

Pat Hume passed away after a short illness on Thursday evening.
Seamus McKinney

Former Irish president Mary McAleese has praised the strength and wisdom of Pat Hume, widow of late SDLP leader John.

Mrs Hume (83) died at her home in Derry on Thursday evening after a short illness, just over a year after the death of her husband.

As tributes continued yesterday, former Irish president Mrs McAleese said Mrs Hume would be remembered for her strength and gentle manner. A close friend and a patron of the John and Pat Hume Foundation, Mrs McAleese said Mr Hume relied on his wife for wisdom and advice.

“Pat was an extravagantly wise woman, she had a huge wisdom. I don't know anybody who I have met in my life who was more rounded and more grounded than Pat,” she said.

While Mrs Hume remained in the background, she was able to “synthesise common sense, compassion, political nous” in a way that was essential to her husband's work.

Current Irish President, Michael D Higgins said Mrs Hume made an “extraordinary” contribution to life in Ireland and beyond.

Former SDLP MP, Mark Durkan, who succeeded Mr Hume as party leader, said every tribute paid to the Derry woman was deserved. Mr Durkan said she was a woman of “grace, grit and endless generosity”. He said she was tender in spirit.

The former Derry MP said: “Pat grounded John in her natural way, lifted him in her special way and still had constant empathy for outers.”

In a joint statement, First and Deputy First Ministers, Paul Givan and Michelle O'Neill extended sympathy to Mrs Hume's family and friends.

Mr Givan said it was a testament to her legacy that people from all backgrounds had joined together in sadness at her death while Mrs O'Neill said her thoughts were with the Hume family and people of Derry.

“Pat was a strong and determined person who immense contribution to our peace is recognised across this island and across the world,” Mrs O'Neill said.

Former Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt said Mrs Hume and her husband always talked in a positive way of the benefits of a diverse society. Mr Nesbitt, who is also a patron of the John and Pat Hume Foundation, said their shared view of Northern Ireland politics was ahead of its time.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said Mrs Hume had had a “unique life well-lived”. He said she was a lovely lady and no-one ever left a conversation with her husband without knowing her.

Former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said Mrs Hume was her husband's “best and most trusted advisor” while former Sinn Féin Stormont speaker Mitchel McLaughlin described her as “one of the bedrocks of the peace process who kept her nerve at the worst of times”.

Mrs Hume was also praised by former deputy leader of the Ulster Unionist Party Lord Kilclooney who said he worked with her for ten years in Strasbourg when he and Mr Hume served as MEPs.

“She was a real lady and totally opposed to political violence and bitterness,” he said.

Church leaders also paid tribute. Archbishop Eamon Martin said she was Derry's “first lady” and a friend to all who suffered during the Troubles.

“We owe you and John a great debt of gratitude,” Archbishop Martin said.

Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, John McDowell said Mrs Hume was a “source of inspiration and stability” to Mr Hume and to all who worked for peace.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news