Nobel Prize: Shrewd politician who broke taboos
Belfast-born David McKittrick has been reporting on Northern Ireland since 1971, He has written for the East Antrim Times, the Irish Times and was The Independent's Irish correspondent for many years. He is the author of several books including Making Sense of the Troubles (2000) and Lost Lives (1999).
Saturday 17 October 1998
The Nobel Peace Prize is, however, the culmination of a long political career that began at the start of the Troubles and has now, hopefully, seen Northern Ireland through to the start of a whole new era of peace and progress.
On a political level he has headed a party, the largest in northern nationalism, through some appalling times, and has guided it home to become one of the central props of the new arrangements at Stormont.
At another level he has provided, or helped to provide, many of the concepts upon which this new constitutional architecture is founded.
He has stuck always to the principle of non-violence. He has internationalised the conflict, to include the US and other elements in its resolution; and he provided the conceptual framework for the negotiations of recent years. He provided that framework by laying down the idea that cracking the Northern Ireland problem required dealing with three sets of relationships: those between Unionists and nationalists in Northern Ireland; those between Ireland north and south; and those between Britain and Ireland. The new political geography agreed to in the Good Friday Agreement is based on that model.
Most of that work has been based on logic and rational thinking, but when the historians come to look back on his role they will doubtless deal with his pivotal role in the peace process.
There his contribution was based not just on shrewd political analysis but also on intuition and passion.
The peace process, once the most controversial of projects, has now become the essence of politics in Northern Ireland. It was based on overthrowing one of the strongest political orthodoxies in Ireland: that respectable mainstream politicians should not talk to representatives of the men of violence.
The breaking of that taboo was followed by the establishment of a new political principle: that of inclusion. In this new theory stability could be en-sured only by drawing into the mainstream as many elements as possible; the gamble being taken was that doing so would not pollute that mainstream but rather would encourage formerly violent elements to mutate gradually towards democracy.
The championing of these once heretical ideas has taken its toll on Hume, who has spent a full 30 years in a frontline that has been often personally as well as politically dangerous. Opinion polls north and south consistently indicate that he is the most admired political figure in Ireland: the Nobel prize indicates that the international community shares that regard.
Born 18 January 1937
SDLP MP for Foyle since 1983
SDLP leader since 1979
Married Patricia Hone 1960 (two sons, three daughters)
Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'
Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance
Actress sees off speculation about her face in an amazing way
Marvel has released first teaser trailer week early after it leaked online
The sound of Goodfellas mafioso Frankie Carbone demanding $250m in “damages” would be chilling enough on film, let alone in real life.
- 1 Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
- 2 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 3 Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 Paralysed man Darek Fidyka walks again after treatment by British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis
Ottawa shooting: Canadian soldier dies after being shot at National War Memorial – with one gunman killed inside parliament
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
Isis releases first video showing the stoning of woman accused of committing adultery as her father shouts 'don't call me Dad'
Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
Diwali: What is the festival of lights and how is it celebrated around the world?
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
£250 - £300 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT** Our...
£21000 - £31000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: KS2 Teachers - Chelm...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ampersand Consulting LLP: SAP ABAP Developer - Rugb...
£80000 - £90000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: Working for an International Mul...