Former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has expressed his “deep sense of personal loss” at the death of John Hume.
Gerry Adams extended to John’s wife, Pat, and the entire Hume family his “sincere condolences and solidarity on the death of John”.
Gerry Adams said:
“When others were stuck in the ritual politics of condemnation John Hume had the courage to take real risks for peace. His decision to meet with me in September 1986, following an invitation from Fr Alex Reid, was a breakthrough moment in Irish politics. John’s agreement to examine the potential of building an alternative to conflict was the mark of a political leader genuinely prepared to look at the bigger picture and to put the wider interests of society above narrow party politics.
“This was at a time when the great and the good in the political and media establishments on these islands were committed to marginalising and demonising Sinn Féin.
“It took even greater courage to stick with it after we made our first Hume-Adams joint statement in April 1993. For daring to break the establishment consensus of talking to me, John was the target of a vitriolic and deeply hurtful and personalised campaign, much of it driven by sections of the southern media. Looking back we should not forget that this was for the offence of talking to another elected political representative. John also faced fierce criticism from some within his own party.
“Despite all this John stayed with our process of dialogue. We continued to work together throughout it all. For that he deserves great credit. So does Pat who was John’s mainstay, his life partner and constant adviser and supporter. She always made me welcome. Father Alex often told me that Pat was the biggest influence on John and he often talked to her about our process. I thank her for all she has done.
“Over the many years of private conversation I got to know John well and we came to trust and respect each other’s opinions, and to accept that our common objective was to end conflict on the island of Ireland and create the conditions for a lasting peace with justice.
“John was very down to earth and easy to talk to. Our conversations were never combative. He listened attentively to my opinions while ably arguing his own views when we disagreed. I have many happy memories of my engagements with John. The Good Friday Agreement in 1998 twelve years after we first met was a landmark moment for both of us. But one of my favourite memories is of John and I standing in the White House during St Patrick’s Day celebrations in March 1995 singing the ‘The town I loved so well’ to an appreciative and much bemused Irish-American audience.
“John’s contribution to Irish politics cannot be underestimated. When others talked endlessly about peace John grasped the challenge and helped make peace happen.
“Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.”