Hume honoured at gala event in Derry

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Two politicians who helped boost the peace process were honoured in Derry on Sunday as the University of Ulster announced further funding of £876,000 for the John Hume and Thomas P O’Neill Chair in Peace.

The event at the university’s Magee Campus brought together politicians and diplomats of the present to pay tribute to the achievements of two key figures of the past.

It marked the centenary of the birth of Irish-American US politician O’Neill and celebrated former SDLP Leader John Hume’s 75th birthday.

The two men are widely credited for helping to bring peace to Northern Ireland.

Sunday’s get-together was compered by RTE broadcaster and UU honorary graduate Dr Miriam O’Callaghan.

The audience included Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, US Consul General Gregory Burton, the Tánaiste’s representative Niall Burgess and former Irish Ambassador to the US Dr Sean Donlon.

UU Vice-Chancellor Professor Barnett said: “The John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace will be a full-time academic position, honouring both men’s significant contributions to peace, and their unique friendship. It will also play a pivotal role in overseeing a new INCORE peace initiative which will train the next generation of peacemakers from around the world.

“The new Chair will build on the success of the original Tip O’Neill Chair, supported by the Ireland Funds, which - under John Hume’s tenure from 2002 -2009 - gave the University of Ulster unrivalled visibility on the world stage.

“Professor Hume attracted an unparalleled group of international figures to the Magee campus including President Bill Clinton, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, European Commission President Romano Prodi and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.

“In addition to recognising Professor Hume and former House of Representatives Speaker Thomas O’Neill, this initiative will mark the legacy of the peace process and the contribution of the many individuals who played a role in securing peace in Northern Ireland.”