Dignitaries send tributes to Hume funeral from around the world

Pope Francis, the Clintons and the Dalai Lama united in praise of former SDLP leader

Bill Clinton with a candle lit in honour of John Hume.

Bill Clinton with a candle lit in honour of John Hume.


Under normal circumstances, thousands would have been expected to attend the funeral of John Hume in Derry on Wednesday, both local people and dignitaries from around the world.

However, the coronavirus regulations meant the numbers inside the church were limited to about 120, and nobody – including one of Mr Hume’s sons, Aidan, who lives in the US – travelled from abroad. Instead, the Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown, read tributes sent by prominent figures.

Bill and Hillary Clinton: “We were deeply saddened by the passing of our friend John Hume, who fought his long war for peace in Northern Ireland, his chosen weapons an unshakeable commitment to non-violence, persistence, kindness and love.

“With his enduring sense of honour he kept marching on against all odds towards a brighter future.

“He was Ireland’s Martin Luther King.”

Pope Francis: “Mindful of the Christian faith that inspired John Hume’s untiring efforts to promote dialogue, reconciliation and peace among the people of Northern Ireland, His Holiness commends his noble soul to the loving mercy of Almighty God.

“To those who mourn his passing in the sure hope of resurrection, the Holy Father cordially imparts his apostolic blessing as a pledge of consolation and strength in Christ the Lord.”

Boris Johnston: “Last night a candle was lit and placed in the door of Downing Street to pay respects to John Hume, the symbol of the peace he worked so tirelessly to build.

“The world has lost a giant of a politician who was recognised the world over for the immense contribution he made to Northern Ireland.

“We should never forget the lasting impact he made and will continue to have on Northern Ireland. His unending determination and courage paved the way for peace and, because of all he did then, Northern Ireland is a safer, stronger and better place. This will be his legacy.”

Dalai Lama: John Hume’s “deep conviction in the power of dialogue and negotiations in resolving the problem in his homeland has been an example of non-violent resolution of issues.

“It was his leadership and his faith in the power of negotiations that enabled the 1998 Good Friday Agreement [Belfast] to be reached. His steady persistence set an example for all of us to follow.

“His message about peace and non-violence in the resolution of conflict, no matter how protracted or difficult it may seem to be, will long survive him. He lived a truly meaningful life.”

Bono: “We were looking for a giant and found a man whose life made all our lives bigger.

“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.”