John Hume, KCSG (born 18 January 1937) is an Irish former politician from Derry, Northern Ireland. He was a founding member of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, and was co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize, with David Trimble.
He was the second leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), a position he held from 1979 until 2001. He has served as a Member of the European Parliament and a Member of the UK Parliament, as well as a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
He is regarded as one of the most important figures in the recent political history of Ireland and one of the architects of the Northern Ireland peace process. He is also a recipient of the Gandhi Peace Prize and the Martin Luther King Award, the only recipient of the three major peace awards. In 2010 he was named "Ireland's Greatest" in a public poll by Irish national broadcaster RTÉ to find the greatest person in Ireland's history. In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI made Hume a Knight Commander of the Papal Order of St. Gregory the Great.
John Hume was born in Derry with an Irish Catholic background. His great-grandfather was a Presbyterian immigrant into County Donegal from Scotland. Hume was a student at St. Columb's College and at St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, the leading Catholic seminary in Ireland and a recognised college of the National University of Ireland, where he intended to study for the priesthood. Among his teachers was the future Tomás Cardinal Ó Fiaich, a future Primate of All Ireland.
He did not complete his clerical studies but did obtain an M.A degree from the college, and then returned home to his native city and became a teacher. He was a founding member of the Credit Union movement in the city and was chair of the University for Derry Committee in 1965.
Hume became a leading figure in the civil rights movement in the late 1960s along with people such as Hugh Logue. Hume was prominent in the unsuccessful fight to have Northern Ireland's second university established in Derry in the mid-sixties. After this campaign, John Hume went on to be a prominent figure in the Derry Citizens' Action Committee. The DCAC was set up in the wake of 5 October march through Derry which had caused so much attention to be drawn towards the situation in Northern Ireland. The purpose of the DCAC was to make use of the publicity surrounding recent events to bring to light grievances in Derry that had been suppressed by the Unionist Government for years. The DCAC, unlike Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA), however, was aimed specifically at a local campaign, improving the situation in Derry for all, and maintaining a peaceful stance. The committee also had a Stewards Association that was there to prevent any violence at marches or sit-downs.
Image Credit: Óli Gneisti at en.wikipedia / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)