John Hume’s family ask people to ‘light a candle for peace’

Nobel Laureate’s remains to be brought to St Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry on Tuesday

The family of John Hume have asked people to light a candle for peace in memory of the Nobel Laureate who died on Monday.

Mr Hume, who was 83, died on Monday morning in a Derry nursing home following a long period of illness. He is survived by his wife, Pat, and children, Terese, Áine, Aidan, John and Mo, his brothers and sisters and grandchildren.

As preparations continue for his funeral in Derry on Wednesday the family requested some changes to the arrangements for the reception of his remains at St Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry on Tuesday.

At the request of the family it was agreed that rather than bring Mr Hume's remains from his home near Moville in Co Donegal to St Eugene's Cathedral for 5pm on Tuesday, as originally planned, that the cortège would leave Moville at 7.30 pm and arrive at the cathedral sometime after 8.30 pm.


And instead of people turning out at their homes as the funeral passed by they urged mourners “to light a candle for peace at 9pm in their doors or at their home”.

This request was issued because Mr Hume’s wife Pat and family did not want to create dangers of people contracting coronavirus.

On Monday night Father Paul Farren, administrator of St Eugene's Cathedral in Derry met with the Hume family in preparation for Wednesday`s funeral Mass.

“Pat and her family are very grateful for the outpouring of love and support following the death of their beloved John,” he said

He added, “The family are anxious that a public gathering for John’s funeral might inadvertently put someone’s health at risk in the context of the current Covid-19 pandemic, and are asking that people express their grief by staying at home and joining with the Hume family in a ‘Celebration of Light for Peace’.”

Books of condolences have been opened across the country, including in Derry, Dublin, Belfast, Cork and Kilkenny.

Throughout Monday tributes poured in from current and former Irish and British and other leaders such as Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Bertie Ahern, Tony Blair, Boris Johnson, former US president Bill Clinton, President Michael D Higgins and former president Mary McAleese.

Members of the Ad Hoc Committee to Protect the Good Friday Agreement - a group made up of 40 well-known Irish-American politicians and business leaders - also released a statement on Tuesday, mant of them remembering their time working with him during his quest to secure American support for the peace process.

Ted Smyth, former Irish diplomat and President of the Advisory Board at Glucksman Ireland House NYU, said:

"As early as 1964, John Hume in the Irish Times defined our challenge on the island of Ireland as reconciling two different loyalties by peaceful means.... John secured essential Irish American and US Government support for equal rights for nationalists and unionists. There would have been no peace without America and that is why we still need America to protect his legacy and the Good Friday Agreement."

Meanwhile the former US envoy to Northern Ireland and chair of the peace talks Gerge Mitchell said John Hume designed the template for negotiations that led to the Belfast Agreement.

The US Senator described Hume as a “visionary” who could “look into the future and see the circumstances under which this could be brought to a successful conclusion, which was very hard to do given the tremendous amount of violence and hostility and fear that existed at the time.”

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times