by Gareth Cross

Pat Hume paid tribute to her husband John at the launch of a new book in Derry on Friday night.

Mrs Hume was speaking at the launch of a book containing extracts from various speeches throughout Mr Hume's career.

'John Hume - In his own words' was written by former SDLP MLA and friend of Mr Hume, Sean Farren, and was launched at the University of Ulster Magee Campus.

Mrs Hume thanked Mr Farren for his new book admitting that her husband wasn't the 'most organised of people'.

She said that her husband's tireless work in spreading his message of peace and reconciliation was inspired by his childhood in Derry.

"John's view was formed by his own personal experiences," said Mrs Hume.

"As a child he lived in one bedroom with his parents and siblings. His father Sam was a brilliant man but was unemployed after World War Two and never found work in his hometown again."

Mrs Hume said that Mr Hume was industrious from a young age.

"He delivered papers in the morning and again at night and helped his mother with shirts she brought home from her factory job to earn extra money,"

"Sam was the best social worker in the city and John's home was the place to go if you were in difficulties.

"From a young age John was well versed in the problems in Derry."

She said that these experiences as a young boy stood him in good stead in later life.

"He was one of the founding members of the Credit Union because he loved the idea of self-help," said Mrs Hume.

"He spent the 60's trying to highlight the isolationist policy and in 1963 he was involved in a documentary about the issues in Derry, 'A City Solitary'."

"At the time Belfast completely ignored Derry, they didn't want to know."

Mr Hume also became involved in trying to attract investment to Derry.

"He had a number of ideas, he set up a small salmon business and tried to convince [the owners of] a local spring to bottle water - they thought he needed his head examined," joked Mrs Hume.

"Since he was a child John tried to solve the problems he saw around him in Derry.

"He never avoided the dark side of the Northern Ireland situation and used it to address the issues.

"I think this is a book we can all take a few lessons from and I hope it is widely read."

Mrs Hume was given a standing ovation by the audience following her speech.

Hardest job

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood also paid tribute to Mr Hume at the event.

"It's one of the hardest jobs in the world, doing the job that John did," he said.

"People criticise the SDLP for talking about the past, but it is easy to talk about the past when you are proud of it.

"Other parties want to forget about their past, but we are very proud of the past John has given us, it took a long time for people to accept his message of partnership and reconciliation."

Mr Eastwood said that Mr Hume's departure from politics had left a large vacuum.

"I wish we had John involved around the EU referendum because nobody spoke more passionately about the benefits of it," he said.

"John realised that we don't lose anything by working together.

"Imagine what it must have been like for him, realising that in 1964 and it taking until 1998 for everyone else to get there."

The SDLP leader said that Mr Hume's dream and vision had not yet been realised.

"People say that the SDLP's aims were achieved in 1998, they ask 'what's the point of the SDLP?' said Mr Eastwood.

"John achieved a platform which gave future generations the chance to achieve his aims of a reconciled country.

"We have an enormous job to do to realise John's vision and I hope to get back to doing it," he concluded

Author of the book and friend of the Hume family Sean Farren said that Mr Hume had transformed Ireland.

"This book collects key extracts from many of the visionary pieces of Hume’s work," he said.

The selected texts chronicle his entire career, covering his entry into public life in the early 1960s through the Credit Union, the Derry Housing Association, the civil rights movement, his first election to the Northern Ireland Parliament, the foundation of the SDLP, his influence over successive Irish governments, and the various initiatives aimed at ending the violence and achieving an acceptable agreement.

“John brought peace to these islands but he also gave us a way forward. The book will be of interest to anyone who ponders the past but also to those who seek to carve a way forward for a new future.”

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