John Hume bust unveiled at European Parliament

Published

June 9, 2022 9:23

EU flags at the European Commission Berlaymont building
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Irish News 8 June 2022

JOHN Hume’s son last night spoke of his family’s pride in their father’s legacyas a bust of the late SDLP leader was unveiled in Strasbourg.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin joined President of the EuropeanParliament Roberta Metsola at the official unveiling of the bust, created byDublin-based sculptor Liz O’Kane.

The specially-commissioned piece is one of four memorials to theNobel laureate and former MEP, two of which have already been installed in theIrish embassies in Washington DC and London, with the final one set to beerected in the Department of Foreign Affairs’ headquarters in Iveagh House,Dublin.

John Hume Junior and Sean Farren of the Hume Foundation wereamong guests from across Europe who came together to pay tribute to the man whoplayed a central role in the rise of the civil rights movement and later in thepeace process.

“Dad loved Strasbourg and as many people have noted here todayhe drew a lot of inspiration from its example as a place where power-sharingworks and people come together for the common good,” the former Foyle MP’s sontold The Irish News.

“He loved coming here and I think it made such a difference tohis life.”

Mr Hume described yesterday’s evening’s event as a “very proudmoment” for him and his family.

“It’s wonderful to be here to sample the warmth and welcomingwords that my father would have loved so much,” he said.

The taoiseach too spoke of the late SDLP leader’s affection forStrasbourg and how during his 25 years as an MEP he was often struck by thecity’s location, close to France’s border with Germany, and how just over threedecades before John Hume was elected to the European Parliament, the two countrieshad been “embroiled in the most brutal and devastating war Europe had everseen”.

“They came together to work for a prosperous and more peacefulEurope,” Mr Martin said.

“For John, this was an example of peace and reconciliation – hesaw peace as a moral duty and his commitment to that was unwavering.”

 Mr Martin, who will today address a plenary at the EuropeanParliament to mark 50 years since Ireland joined the EU, said Mr Hume had madehis life’s work the achievement of a “just and lasting peace for all the peopleof Ireland”.

“For this he succeeded, for which we all owe him a great debt ofgratitude,” the taoiseach said.

He said John Hume’s commitment to the principles of non-violenceand respect for diversity continued to inspire many across Europe.

President Metsola said Mr Hume saw the city of Strasbourg as asymbol of hope and that he appreciated the benefits of the European unity.

“He used the European Parliament precisely for the purpose forwhich it was created – to work to build our common ground and respect ourdifferences,” she said.

She praised the former Northern Ireland MEP’s contributions atthe European Parliament, saying she was “struck by constructive dialogue ofreconciliation that John Hume was able to nurture with representatives of allsides”.