Hume wins 'Ireland's greatest' award


John Hume was last night announced as the winner of RTÉ’s search to find the greatest person in the history of Ireland.

The results of the public text and phone vote were revealed on The Late Late Show to the delight of Mr Hume’s champion, journalist and Prime Time presenter, Miriam O’Callaghan.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams congratulated Mr Hume on his win today saying it was a "unique and singular honour."

"It is a measure of the esteem in which he is held that he secured most votes. I am sure his family will be enormously proud," he said.

Green Party leader John Gormley also congratulated Mr Hume this evening. 

"I am moved to pay tribute to one of those people whose courageous efforts to build bridges and advance human rights was recognised last night. John Hume is indeed one of Ireland's greatest individuals, and I would like to applaud the work he has done for all communities on our island," he said.

Mr Hume topped the poll ahead of Michael Collins in second place, Mary Robinson in third and James Connolly and Bono who followed in fourth and fifth place. Named Nobel Luareate in 1998 for his efforts in the peace process, Mr Hume was described by O’Callaghan as responsible for bringing peace to Northern Ireland. She had appealed to voters by describing his campaigning for nationalist civil rights and his determination to talk to Sinn Féin and the IRA. Over the course of the five documentaries, an average of 318,400 people watched the series.

Over the past five weeks the contenders have been profiled in TV documentaries. Former PD leader Michael McDowell championed the case of Michael Collins; RTÉs Joe Duffy presented the programme on James Connolly; Bono was championed by RTÉs Dave Fanning; economist David McWilliams made the case for Mary Robinson, and O’Callaghan presented the documentary on John Hume.

The shortlist was selected in a public vote from a list of 40 people whose names topped a survey by Ipsos/MRBI.

However, it was criticised by some historians who claimed it favoured modern figures.