Bill and Hilary Clinton pay tribute to ‘grace and courage’ of Pat Hume
Bill and Hilary Clinton have expressed their deep sorrow at the passing of Pat Hume while hailing the pivotal role she played in securing peace and a new dawn for the people of Ireland.
The former US President and First Lady became friends with John and Pat Hume during their tenure in the White House and visits to Derry and it was a friendship that was founded on deep respect and admiration and one that endured through to the present.
In a statement issued on Friday, Bill Clinton said: “Pat Hume played an enormous role in achieving peace in Northern Ireland. All of us who were blessed by the way she lived her life and advanced her cause with such grace, courage and good humour will be forever grateful. My condolences to her family and the people of Northern Ireland. ”
Hilary Clinton wrote: “Pat Hume was a gracious, determined force behind the achievement of peace in Ireland. She and her husband John both made the world a better place and set an example for us all. Sending my condolences to her family.”
Tens of thousands witnessed that deep admiration during the various visits by Bill, Hilary and Chelsea Clinton to the city over the years.
On their first visit, Derry came to a standstill as crowds packed into Guildhall Square, Waterloo Place, Shipquay Street and along the City Walls on Thursday, November 30, 1995 to witness Bill Clinton deliver his message of hope.
The visit was all the more remarkable because he spoke without much in the way of preparation, egged on by John Hume and the then Mayor of Derry, the late Colr. John Kerr despite the reservations of those leading his massive security detail. Hilary Clinton could be seen beaming in her seat as the chorus of ‘We Want Bill!’ grew louder, but there was a pause in the chants as the crowds roared their approval when John Hume took to the podium. Mr Hume said: “The reason we are all gathered in our streets today is to say thank you to President Clinton and Mrs. Clinton and their Administration because peace in our land has been central to the President’s policy since the day he was elected and we on our streets, who know for the past 25 years what the absence of peace has meant, are deeply grateful.”
The President himself praised the Humes as Ireland’s foremost champions of peace. “Crossing the border now is as easy as crossing a speed bump, the soldiers are off the streets, the City Walls are open to civilians. There are no more shakedowns as you walk into a store,” he said, adding: “Daily life has become more ordinary but this will never be an ordinary city!”