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Funeral of John Hume takes place

President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Micheál Martin were among the mourners as John Hume was laid to rest.

John Hume, a key figure in the Northern Ireland peace process, died on Monday at the age of 83. In 1998, John Hume and then UUP leader David Trimble were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to end violence in Northern Ireland.

The former SDLP leader and Nobel Prize laureate had been suffering from dementia which cruelly prevented him from seeing the benefits of his labours, the current peace in Northern Ireland.

John Hume, one of the key architects of the Good Friday Agreement, “never lost faith in peace”, mourners at his funeral have been told.

Numbers inside St Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry were limited to around 120 people due to the coronavirus pandemic, but members of the public gathered outside the cathedral’s railings and applauded as his coffin left the church grounds and taken for burial.

President Michael D Higgins, Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill were among the mourners.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis, Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney, current SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, Alliance leader Naomi Long and former Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson were also in attendance.

Fr Farren said during the service that the politician always “made peace visible”.

Fr Farran said: “His vision revealed what could be, and with time and determination and single-mindedness and stubbornness he convinced others that peace could be a reality.

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“He never lost faith in peace and he never lost faith in his ability to convince others that peace was the only way.

“If ever you want to see a man who gave his life for his country, and his health, that man is John Hume.”

During the Mass Mr Hume’s son, John Junior, paid a personal tribute to his father on behalf of the family.

He said his dad made them “laugh, dream, think and sometimes look at him and scratch our heads in amazement.

“He also kept the Irish chocolate industry in healthy profits for many years. Yorkies, Crunchies, Creme Eggs, Double Deckers, Wispas, you name it, he loved them all.

“We often found it odd how a man with the intelligence to win a Nobel Prize could seriously believe that Crunchies were less fattening because they are full of air.”

He added: “If dad were here today, in the fullness of his health, witnessing the current tensions in the world, he wouldn’t waste the opportunity to say a few words.

“He’d talk about our common humanity, the need to respect diversity and difference, to protect and deepen democracy, to value education, and to place non-violence at the absolute centre.

Former Leader of the SDLP, Mark Durkan

“He might also stress the right to a living wage and a roof over your head, to decent healthcare and education.”

Tributes from the Pope, the Dalai Lama, Bono, the US President Bill Clinton and the UK prime minister Boris Johnson were read at the funeral.

Also among the mourners was Derry musician Phil Coulter, who played ‘The Town I Loved So Well’ at the end of the service.

A message from U2 singer Bono said: “We were looking for a giant and found a man whose life made all our lives bigger.

“We were looking for some superpowers and found clarity of thought, kindness and persistence.

“We were looking for revolution and found it in parish halls with tea and biscuits and late-night meetings under fluorescence.

“We were looking for a negotiator who understood that no-one wins unless everyone wins and that peace is the only victory.

“We were looking for joy and heard it in the song of a man who loved his town so well and his missus even more.

“We were looking for a great leader and found a great servant.

“We found John Hume.”

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