Northern Ireland news

Taoiseach to deliver Hume Foundation address in Derry

Taoiseach, Micheál Martin will deliver an address to the John and Pat Hume Foundation in Derry tonight. Picture by Julien Behal/PA Wire

TAOISEACH Micheál Martin is to address the Hume Foundation in Derry tonight in what is being seen as a response to a loyalist security alert which forced Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney to abandon a similar address.

Mr Martin will deliver the address in person at The Playhouse in Derry as part of the John and Pat Hume Foundation's Building Common Ground series of talks.

It comes a week after Mr Coveney was forced to leave the stage at the Houben Centre on Belfast's Crumlin Road. He was addressing the foundation on the same theme when he was informed by security staff that a vehicle containing a suspected bomb had been left at the nearby Holy Cross Church. The incident was later linked to the UVF.

It subsequently emerged that a van driver was hijacked earlier in the day at Sydney Street West off Shankill Road. Confronted by two gunmen, he was told a bomb had been placed in his van and was ordered to drive it to the Houben Centre. A funeral which was about to take place at Holy Cross was also halted and moved to the church carpark because of the incident.

Tonight's address by the taoiseach takes place in a city centre venue which is just yards from Derry's Fountain estate, the last remaining unionist/loyalist area on the cityside.

The address will be followed by a panel discussion with Kevin Murphy, chief executive of The Playhouse, technology entrepreneur Mary McKenna and Derry community leader Brian Doherty. The discussion will be moderated by journalist Freya McClements of The Irish Times.

Chairman of the Hume Foundation, Dr Sean Farren said the organisation was delighted to welcome Mr Martin to Derry.

"The creation of genuine partnerships within the north, between north and south and between Ireland and Britain, was a key aim of the Good Friday Agreement. Such partnerships would be forged by building common ground, ‘spilling our sweat together and not our blood' as John Hume so often said," he said.

The Hume Foundation was established to nurture the legacy of Nobel laureate, John Hume and his late wife, Pat. While the taoiseach will deliver his address in person, the event will also be live streamed, registration for which is available at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/building-common-ground-taoiseach-micheal-martin-td-tickets-305451412397.

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