Northern Ireland

Widow of John Hume told of his 'love of people' in interview with Mary McAleese just before her death

Pat Hume spoke to former President Mary McAleese for her new programme, `With God On Our Side'
Pat Hume spoke to former President Mary McAleese for her new programme, `With God On Our Side'

THE widow of former SDLP leader John Hume told of how his "love of people" was "central" to everything he did in an interview with Mary McAleese just before her death.

Pat Hume spoke to the former President about how the world would be a "better" place if more of her husband's ideas on respect for diversity, community well-being and non-violence "come through".

In what became her final interview, the Derry woman spoke to Mrs McAleese for her new programme `With God On Our Side', which is due to be broadcast on BBC One tonight.

In the programme, Mrs McAleese meets politicians and peacemakers, perpetrators and victims of violence to ask what role religion played in creating and resolving conflict in Northern Ireland and whether it still has a role to play in building peace, in a more secular, diverse, post-Brexit society.

Among those she meets is Mrs Hume, who died in September, just over a year after she lost her husband, John, a founder of the SDLP.

Regarded as a key architect of the Northern Ireland peace process, Mr Hume won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998 alongside the then-leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, David Trimble.

Speaking to Mrs McAleese, Mrs Hume said her husband's "love of people" was "central" to everything he did.

"Well, a love of people comes straight from heaven," she said.

"Do onto others as you would, that they should do onto you.

"He couldn't drive that home hard enough".

Asked about her husband's decision to enter into the Hume/Adams peace talks in 1986 - which were considered a breakthrough moment in Irish political history - Mrs Hume said it had been a "very difficult thing to do".

"John had let it be known that he wanted to talk to the IRA and do everything that he could do to persuade them to stop and show them the futility of it all and what it was doing to people," she said.

"He talked about patriotism and patriotism should be about building for your country not destroying. Patriotism should be about spilling your sweat for your country, not your blood."

The former teacher, who passed away at the age of 83, revealed how bullets in the post and threats were "common place" for the family, adding that her husband would have been "destroyed" by Brexit as he was "such a European".

She added: "His ideas of respect for diversity and inclusion. His ideas for community well-being. His ideas for non violence. I think the more that they come through, the better the world will be".

Among the other people featured on the programme are former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, ex-DUP leader Arlene Foster, former Methodist president Rev Harold Good and Fr Martin Magill.