Video: Derry man John Hume and late Armagh man Séamus Mallon played different but essential SDLP roles, MLAs state in tributes

Politicians of every hue acknowledged the partnership between John Hume and Séamus Mallon in tributes to the late SDLP veteran at Stormont.

Saturday, 1st February 2020, 11:15 am

Nationalist and unionist MLAs said Mr. Mallon and Mr. Hume played different but essential roles within the SDLP.

SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan said: “He used his relationship with Hume to bring about a better future for everyone in this place. I speak as a member of the new generation of the SDLP.

"I am surrounded by many on these Benches who, in more recent years, have been lucky to enjoy the peace - the imperfect peace - that we have thanks to the vision and life work of Séamus Mallon.”

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood and former leader Mark Durkan among the pall-bearers at the funeral of Samus Mallon on Monday.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “The SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood, has, in recent days, described Séamus as a force of nature: that is very apt.

“Séamus has left a legacy of hard work and commitment to creating a better society and a better Ireland. He has left an indelible print on the politics in Ireland.

"Despite our different political outlooks and paths challenging the British Government’s presence and the causes of division and partition in Ireland, there is no doubt that Séamus and his friend John Hume helped to open up the prospects for peaceful change.”

First Minister Arlene Foster said: “He was seen by many in unionism as a more typical Irish nationalist than his long-term partner leading the SDLP, John Hume, yet perhaps viewed as more pragmatic and with a better understanding of unionists. That may have been as a result of the fact that he lived in Markethill with his unionist neighbours at every turn.”

UUP leader Steve Aiken described him as a ‘great Irishman’.

“Séamus and our then leader, David Trimble, did much to see Northern Ireland emerge from the destructive and evil days of the Troubles, and, while David saw the recognition of the Nobel Prize, Séamus, who probably deserved it as much as his leader, John Hume, has only latterly been recognised for the inspirational leader and politician that he was; indeed, as one of my predecessors, Lord Empey, said today, there was no doubt that, if John Hume was the SDLP’s ideas man, Séamus was the person to turn those ideas into practice and workable solutions,” he said.

Alliance MLA Trevor Lunn said: “His partnership with John Hume was a formidable one. I am sure that it is no exaggeration to say that, without them, the Good Friday Agreement and, perhaps, other agreements might never have happened.

“Their legacy and that of others whom I could mention, such as David Trimble, Dr. Paisley and Gerry Adams, is demonstrated by the fact that we are able to stand here today and talk about Séamus in an Assembly that has been reconstituted.”