John Hume Nobel Peace Prize donation: It was dad's decision, these prizes were for everyone
John Hume Junior has said it was the firm wish of his father that his Nobel Peace Prize, Martin Luther King Jnr. Non-Violent Prize and Mahatma Gandhi Peace Prize all be donated to the people of his beloved Derry.
The prestigious prizes were formally handed to the Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Colr. Brian Tierney, by John's widow Pat, in the company of her family in the Guildhall on Friday morning.
His son John said: "It's a very happy day for the Hume family today. When dad was awarded these great prizes he always said this was very much an award for everyone, for all those who struggled for peace north and south, and today it is about giving them back to Derry and Strabane council.
"Dad, as everyone knows, was a very proud Derry man. He was very proud of the city so I think it's great that hopefully these awards will be on display here and will be an inspiration for generations to come."
Mayor Tierney said it was a tremendously generous donation. The gifts, given in memory of the late Derry statesman, would be treasured by citizens and visitors alike, he declared.
"It is a very, very noble gesture from the family and it is something that I've been delighted to be able to host.
"I've connections with the Hume family through my own family for decades so to be able to invite the family down here and host them and help them make this announcement around loaning these peace medals back into the city so that the people of the city and district can come and visit them and come and look at them, I think, it's a very great gesture by the family and I think it will add to the already very busy museum service that we have."
John Hume Jr. said the family has been touched by the support that's been shown to them by the people of Derry since his father passed away last August.
"It's been overwhelming. The messages of kindness, just I suppose as a family, for us to understand how much dad meant on a personal level to so many people. It has become increasingly clear to us over the past six or seven months. It's been a huge help to us. It's been a huge help to mum and we are forever grateful."
The late civil rights champion and SDLP founder was the only person in history to be awarded the Nobel Peace Laureate in 1998, the Martin Luther King Jnr Non-Violent Prize in 1999 and the Mahatma Gandhi Peace Prize in 2002.
His son said the awards were a tribute to all those who had helped lay the foundations for the peace the city and nation currently enjoys.
"These prizes are an example of what is possible. They are, as dad said, there to show what can be done, not just by people like dad, but by the quiet peacemakers, by those that work behind the scenes.
"Hopefully they will provide inspiration to our leaders today to get back around the table and start talking about things that will improve the north and make this a better place."
It was John Hume's clear wish that the prizes be gifted to his own beloved Derry, said John Jr.
"It was his decision. This was something that, as he said in Oslo, many years ago, as he said when he was given the other prizes, you know, these prizes weren't for him they were for everyone."
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the presentation was typical of the Hume family.
"It's just the tradition of John and Pat and the whole Hume family to put the people of Derry front and centre in everything that they do. John was the only person in the world to ever get the Nobel Peace Prize, the Gandhi Peace Prize and the Martin Luther King Jnr Non-Violent Prize - and when he did accept those awards, if you look back on his speeches, he was doing it on behalf of the people, particularly the people of Derry who meant so much to him. It is absolutely fantastic that these prizes are returning to the people of the city," said the Foyle MP.
Mr. Eastwood said it was right and fitting that the awards should be publicly accessible as this is exactly what John would have wanted.
"John wanted this to happen and everybody in Derry will understand that John wanted this to happen. He wouldn't want this to be kept away in some private place. It's for the people of Derry to look at and see and more importantly take inspiration from because we have to remember the job isn't finished.
"The peace process still needs to be worked through and that work of building together a united community is the unfinished work and we have to continue to do it."
The Mayor said the council will now need to consider where the awards will be installed on a permanent basis.
"Obviously it has to go through the council processes and I'm looking forward to doing that but in my opinion we need to get this done very quickly and get these on display because they are one of a kind. Nowhere else has these across the globe and I think we need to get this exhibition opened sooner rather than later," said the Mayor.
Mr. Eastwood said the donation was a timely reminder of Mr. Hume's legacy amid the political turmoil that has engulfed these islands over the past several years.
"Politics is in a bad place. It all goes back to Brexit, of course, but I would always argue we have to get back to the principles that John Hume talked about - the Good Friday Agreement, working together in our common interests, building reconciliation and working towards our political ambitions peacefully and democratically. That's the only route. It was ever thus."
Mayor Tierney said the donation exemplified the bond between John Hume and his family and the people of Derry.
"It shows the commitment and dedication that the people of Derry have for John but also what the Hume family have for them. As John Hume Jr. said this morning, John always thought that these prizes weren't a prize for him they were a prize for the people.
"It was only right and fitting that they should be loaned back to the city and I think the Hume family should be commended for doing that."