John Hume’s politics went far beyond Northern Ireland – his vision is as urgent as ever | Martin Kettle | The Guardian

His stubborn work of bridge-building and political compromise is exactly what the UK needs in this time of bitter divisionIt is more than 40 years since my first interview with John Hume. It took place in a smoke-filled bar in Derry after a boxing match. Up the hill on the Diamond, Derry’s central square, armed soldiers scampered from doorway to doorway to avoid the danger of sniper fire. Down in the Bogside, a pub bore the slogan Informers Will Be Shot. The IRA hunger strike was still two years in the future. Ceasefire was on no one’s agenda, let alone political agreement. But the first and main thing that Hume talked about that day was power-sharing and the road to peace.Back then, half of his life lay ahead. Yet even then it was as if Hume carried a historic burden on his hulking shoulders. He talked quietly, I remember, and he measured every word. He explained what he believed was needed for Derry, for Northern Ireland, and for the island of Ireland. He wanted the different traditions equally recognised. He wanted them to accept each other within a shared political space. And he wanted them to make the best of it, together, for the common good, rather than turning every last issue into a zero-sum battle. Yet the way ahead seemed dauntingly impenetrable. Continue reading…

His stubborn work of bridge-building and political compromise is exactly what the UK needs in this time of bitter division

It is more than 40 years since my first interview with John Hume. It took place in a smoke-filled bar in Derry after a boxing match. Up the hill on the Diamond, Derry’s central square, armed soldiers scampered from doorway to doorway to avoid the danger of sniper fire. Down in the Bogside, a pub bore the slogan Informers Will Be Shot. The IRA hunger strike was still two years in the future. Ceasefire was on no one’s agenda, let alone political agreement. But the first and main thing that Hume talked about that day was power-sharing and the road to peace.

Back then, half of his life lay ahead. Yet even then it was as if Hume carried a historic burden on his hulking shoulders. He talked quietly, I remember, and he measured every word. He explained what he believed was needed for Derry, for Northern Ireland, and for the island of Ireland. He wanted the different traditions equally recognised. He wanted them to accept each other within a shared political space. And he wanted them to make the best of it, together, for the common good, rather than turning every last issue into a zero-sum battle. Yet the way ahead seemed dauntingly impenetrable.

Continue reading…


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