Glowing tributes paid to Pat Hume from across the political spectrum

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Warm tributes were paid at Stormont this week to the late Derry civil rights campaigner Pat Hume who sadly passed away earlier this month.

Politicians of all hues spoke fondly of Mrs. Hume, who with her late husband John has been credited with playing a massive role in the peace process.

SDLP Deputy Leader Nichola Mallon led the tributes.

She said: “There will never again be another Pat Hume or another John Hume or another partnership quite like theirs, but we should be eternally grateful to and for both of them and all they achieved together for all of us.

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Pat Hume, pictured on the beach in Newcastle, Co. Down, with her late husband John who predeceased her by just over a year.Pat Hume, pictured on the beach in Newcastle, Co. Down, with her late husband John who predeceased her by just over a year.
Pat Hume, pictured on the beach in Newcastle, Co. Down, with her late husband John who predeceased her by just over a year.

“In the days since Pat left us, we have had time to gather our thoughts, and, today, we reflect on a truly remarkable, resilient, radiant Derry woman, a quiet patriot who was a profile in courage and, as Mark Durkan said, an ‘alchemist of optimism’.”

Ms. Mallon described Mrs. Hume as someone who was ‘wonderfully warm’ and ‘genuinely interested’ in other people.

“She made everyone whom she met feel special, and that is one of the characteristics that made her such a special human being. Among the many tributes that poured in, one person tweeted that Pat had taught his brother in primary school and that, although he loved his mother very much, he wanted Pat to adopt him. Anyone who really knew Pat will know exactly what he meant.

“From her teaching career to the earliest days of the Credit Union, through the civil rights movement to the Good Friday Agreement, and on to her advocacy for Troubles victims, Pat Hume always cared deeply about people and worked tirelessly for them.

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“Her compassion for others was best summed up by Father Paul Farren when he noted: ‘Your problem became hers’. That is exactly how she ran John’s Derry constituency service, taking great care of everyone who came through the door, whether of the office or, as often happened, the house in Westend Park. That is why, as we have seen, heard and read in recent days, people loved her,” she said.

Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd echoed these sentiments, stating: “I offer our deepest condolences to the Hume family on Pat’s passing. Pat played a central role in Irish politics since the civil rights movement. She did so alongside John, with John and, at times, leading John and giving him advice through those very difficult years.

“Without doubt, she has, as has been said, shown the importance of her role to Irish society and to building and sustaining the peace process and giving this generation of political leaders an opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives. That is a huge testament to her life.”

DUP MLA Gary Middleton said: “When I first heard of the passing of Pat Hume, one of the first words that came to my mind was ‘radiant’. Although I have been in politics for only a decade, I had the opportunity and pleasure to meet Pat Hume on many occasions over that time.

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“Although there is no doubt that we may have differed politically, that was irrelevant to Pat Hume because she always had an interest in the individual. I admired her memory because any time we met, she asked about personal things: she would ask about your wife or your newborn son, and those things really meant a lot.”

Mr. Middleton recalled meeting Mrs. Hume during the City of Culture year.

“One of my memories of Pat Hume is sitting beside her at the Sons and Daughters concert when we were awarded the UK City of Culture. It reminded me that Pat was very much a daughter of the city, as was John a son. Thankfully, they are now reunited. Once again, I pass on my deepest sympathies to the SDLP and to the wider Hume family,” he remarked.

UUP MLA Mike Nesbitt said he had had the honour of serving as a director of the John and Pat Hume Foundation.

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“I will not pretend that I knew Pat that well; obviously, John was the front man in that particular combination. However, it is clear that while he was away, as he often was, here in Belfast or in Dublin, London, Brussels or Washington, he needed a rock back in Derry. He needed somebody to mind his back, and that person was his wife, Pat, who ran the constituency office in his absence.

“In my many years as a broadcast journalist, politicians came into broadcast studios and bemoaned the fact that we were a divided society. They would say, ‘Woe is me’ and ‘It’s the other fellow’s fault’. However, John and Pat Hume preached something different: the positivity of the fact that, as human beings, we are diverse, and we should tap into that to our mutual benefit,” he said.

Andrew Muir, the Alliance MLA, recalled meeting Mrs. Hume while canvassing in Derry when he was a member of the SDLP back in the 1990s.

He stated: “We were canvassing for the 1998 elections for the first sitting of the Assembly. Pat had quite a lot on her plate that day. John was in another part of the country canvassing, and she was out in Derry helping the campaign.

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“The couple of things that struck me from that time were her total and utter dedication to peace and to her family. A lasting tribute to her are the achievements that she and John managed to deliver.

“She was proud to show me the social housing that had been delivered in the city of Derry and to tell me about the credit union and the benefits that it had offered to the people of Derry. As soon as we had finished canvassing, Pat went straight to the supermarket to sort out that evening’s dinner for the family. There was complete dedication to peace and to her family.”

TUV leader Jim Allister said he recognised the woman described by his fellow MLAs in the person he had met from time to time in Brussels and Strasbourg.

He commented: “I did not have the opportunity to know Pat Hume as others did. I did, though, meet her in the European Parliament on a number of occasions, when she accompanied her husband.

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“Certainly, those encounters chime with what has been said in the House about her personal qualities. I therefore very much associate myself with the condolences that have been expressed, first and foremost to the Hume family.

“The role of a mother and a grandmother is so pivotal in any family that there is a particular void when they pass. I also express condolences to Pat Hume’s political family. There is no doubt that they, too, are suffering the loss of someone whom they very deeply respected and valued.”

New Sinn Féin MLA for Foyle Pádraig Delargy grew up beside the Humes. He commented: “I register my personal sympathies and the sympathies of Derry Sinn Féin on the death of Pat Hume. Pat was a next-door neighbour of ours for over 20 years. I will always remember her as a kind and generous person and a very good family friend.”

SDLP MLA Mark H. Durkan said the best way to pay tribute to Mrs. Hume was by emulating her conduct.

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“Pat was something else. Many words have been spoken and written about her over the past couple of weeks by world leaders and, even more significantly and importantly for Pat, ordinary men and women in the street. Many anecdotes have been recounted that illustrate just what a wonderful person she was. However, those tributes, even in their totality, do not come close to capturing just what an amazing lady Pat Hume was,” he said.

Mr. Durkan recalled how a number of years ago a newspaper asked him who his ideal dinner guest would be and that the answer had been very obvious to him.

“One of my guests — in fact, my guest of honour — was Pat Hume. She is world renowned for her empathy, but Pat was every bit as entertaining as she was empathetic. What a lady. The best tribute that we can all pay to Pat Hume is to be more like her and to treat each other and everyone with respect and genuine care. Ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann.”

The Speaker, Alex Maskey concluded: “I express my personal condolences to the SDLP, first of all, and to Pat and John’s family. I concur with all the comments made by all our contributors today. It is obvious from listening to all the tributes that have been paid globally, as has been said, to Pat Hume that Pat was both a lady and a leader in her own right. Rest in peace, Pat Hume.”