Northern Ireland news

'Mum was always smiling, always happy and deeply spiritual' - Pat Hume funeral

 Family follow as the funeral cortege of Pat Hume

A son of Pat Hume, the widow of former SDLP leader and Nobel peace prize winner John, has paid tribute to her warmth, kindness and wisdom at her funeral in Derry this morning.

The death of 83-year-old Mrs Hume, a former teacher, came just over a year after that of her politician husband.

President Michael D Higgins was among mourners gathered for Requiem Mass at St Eugene's Cathedral in Derry.

Also in attendance was former Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble, who jointly won the Nobel prize with Mr Hume for their efforts to strike the historic 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Numbers inside the cathedral, where the funeral of Mr Hume took place last year, were limited due to coronavirus restrictions.

In an address to mourners, Pat Hume's son Aidan said: “Dad would often say that he was a parcel and mum delivered him.

“But that only tells a very small part of the story. Mum was at his right hand throughout his entire life – his best friend, his closest confidant, his loving wife, his trusted adviser, his political antenna.

 St Eugene's Cathedral. A son of Pat Hume, the widow of former SDLP leader and Nobel peace prize winner John, has paid tribute to her warmth, kindness and wisdom at her funeral.

“I don’t think dad would mind me saying this, she was definitely the more glamorous side of the partnership. And that’s even before we consider the endless backscratching, moderating his chocolate intake and putting up with him having his dessert while she was still eating her main course.

“For us, she was the calm at the centre of chaotic times, able to impart a sense of safety and love which sustained us when the world around us was full of uncertainties. No matter how crazy or how difficult the situation, she was simply unflappable.”

Pat Hume with husband John after she was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Ulster in 2010. Picture Margaret McLaughlin

Aidan Hume told mourners of his mother’s love of teaching and passion for the Irish language.

He spoke of her infectious laugh and love of people.

“Mum always focused on the positives, always smiling, always happy, deeply spiritual and had an incredible faith,” he said.

Mr Hume added: “Human connection was fundamental to mum’s existence. She was a people person. She treated everyone she met with the same respect and the same remarkable grace, no matter where they were from or whatever their station in life.

“She had an incredible ability to establish a special connection with everyone she met and to find a way to brighten up the lives of all of those around her.”

 Aidan Hume (right) at the funeral of his mother

Father Paul Farren appeared to make reference to Mrs Hume's view of UK Government plans for a statute of limitations on prosecuting Troubles crimes as he referenced her work with victims of the conflict.

"If you went to Pat with a problem your suffering became her suffering, your pain became her pain, your problem became hers to find a solution to, and she found solutions in her astute, wise, compassionate and quiet way that always avoided any type of fuss or focus on herself," he said.

"The empathy that Pat had was unique and incredible, and that is why her work with Daphne Trimble (David Trimble's wife) after the Good Friday Agreement with those who are victims was so important too.

"That is why she found it abhorrent that anybody or any government would believe that a line could be drawn under the pain and suffering of people.

"Her commitment to truth and to justice was consistent and unquestionable."

After the end of the funeral, people lined the streets outside the cathedral and applauded as Mrs Hume's hearse passed by on its way to the City Cemetery for burial.

A number of Mrs Hume's grandchildren read prayers during the service.

Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown paid tribute to Mrs Hume in his opening remarks.

"The great people of the world are not those who are famous for being famous but those who help others dream that great things are possible," he said.

 John Hume Junior (left) during the funeral of his mother Pat Hume, the wife of former SDLP leader and Nobel Laureate John Hume, at St Eugene's Cathedral in Derry

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said ahead of the service at St Eugene’s Cathedral that the people of Derry were united in grief.

Mr Eastwood said: “It’s a sad day. It’s a sad day for the Hume family above everybody else.

“I think the people of Derry are united in their grief today but we’re also very thankful for the life that Pat had and everything that she gave to us and for us.

“She gave an awful lot for the people of this city and for the people of Ireland, sacrificed so much but was committed to the very end to the peace process and changing our society, to lifting people out of poverty and creating a more just Ireland, and we’re very grateful for everything she did for us.”

President Michael D Higgins was among dignitaries attending Monday morning’s funeral service and former Stormont first minister Lord David Trimble.

 Michael D. Higgins (centre), the President of Ireland, during the funeral of Pat Hume, the wife of former SDLP leader and Nobel Laureate John Hume

Tributes have continued to pour in for Mrs Hume, a mother-of-five from Derry, who died at home after a short illness last Thursday, surrounded by family.

The death of Mrs Hume, a former teacher, comes just over a year after that of her Nobel Peace Prize-winning husband.

The death of the SDLP founder, who was a key architect of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, led to a flood of tributes from around the world.

 (Left-right) Bríd Rodgers (former MLA for the SDLP), Rachael Parkes (Colum Eastwood's wife), John Tierney (former MLA for the SDLP) and Colum Eastwood MP during the funeral of Pat Hume

Requiem Mass is being celebrated in St Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry, where her husband’s funeral took place last year.

Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton was among those paying tribute to Mrs Hume, describing her as a “gracious, determined force behind the achievement of peace in Ireland”.

Mrs Hume had worked alongside her husband for several decades, from the beginning of the civil rights movement in the 1960s until after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

 Former Stormont first minister Lord David Trimble (centre) during the funeral of Pat Hume, the wife of former SDLP leader and Nobel Laureate John Hume

She later cared for him when he developed dementia.

She was awarded the Irish Red Cross Lifetime Achievement award in 2018 and a foundation honouring her and her husband’s peace and reconciliation work was launched last year.

The book of condolence in Derry’s Guildhall was opened by the mayor of Derry and Strabane, Graham Warke, on Friday.

He said: “I wanted to open this book of condolence today to offer the people the chance to pay their respects and say thank you to a remarkable and courageous woman who was unfailing in her service to the people of this city and right across Northern Ireland and beyond.

“The tributes that have been pouring in from across the globe, from all spectrums of life, are testament to the contribution Pat Hume made in her own right to achieving peace and reconciliation, and the many lives she touched with her kindness and courage.

“I want to extend my own personal condolences to the Hume family today – they have given much over the years and to lose both John and Pat in such a short space of time is particularly heartbreaking.

 A message on flowers at the funeral of Pat Hume

“However, it must be some comfort to know that Pat’s legacy will live on in the people of this city, and in the ongoing work of the John and Pat Hume Foundation.

“I think I speak on behalf of everyone when I say thank you Pat for your compassion, grace and commitment, and the life you devoted not just to your husband and your family but to all who needed a helping hand or a listening ear.”

Former president of Ireland Mary McAleese said Mrs Hume was the “perfect partner” for her husband.

“From away back in the 1960s, John was the political strategist of the century in Ireland – the peace process, the Good Friday Agreement, he’s the architect, he’s the chief architect of those things,” she told RTÉ Radio One.

“Pat beside him wasn’t just a person who raised the family, as she did, she wasn’t just the family who nurtured and encouraged and kept John going, as she did, she was also a formidable community activist in her own right.”

Stormont leaders also paid tribute.

First Minister Paul Givan said it was testament to Mrs Hume’s legacy that her death had prompted so many tributes from home and abroad.

“There is a real sense of loss following the death of Pat Hume,” he said.

 Martin McAleese, during the funeral of Pat Hume

“Not just among her friends and family – and my thoughts and prayers are with them at this difficult time – but for the many lives she touched, both directly and indirectly.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “I was very sad to hear about the death of Pat Hume. Pat was a strong and determined person whose immense contribution to our peace is recognised across this island and across the world.

“My thoughts are with Pat and John’s children, the entire Hume family, and the people of Derry who will feel her loss deeply.”

 Mike Nesbitt MLA, during the funeral of Pat Hume

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