Former SDLP leader John Hume today said he was humbled and honoured after being voted Ireland’s Greatest in an island-wide poll.
The Nobel Peace Laureate faced competition from former President Mary Robinson and Michael Collins to clinch the title.
RTÉ broadcast five programmes profiling influential figures in Irish life and the public were urged to vote for who they believed worthy of the Ireland’s Greatest title.
Mr Hume said the award was a great honour to his wife Pat and family who helped him work for peace in the North.
“I am very proud that people across Ireland took the time to vote for me and I appreciate it greatly,” he said.
“This award obviously recognises the contribution of my wife and family over many years as well as others who worked with me.
“I can only thank people in Derry and across the country for taking the time to vote for me.”
Mr Hume said the tag of Ireland’s Greatest could have been given to all men and women who had campaigned for peace throughout the island.
Following the phone and text votes Mr Hume came in first, followed by Michael Collins, Mary Robinson, James Connolly and U2 front man Bono.
SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie said the win challenged everyone on the island to follow Mr Hume’s lead and now rebuild the economy.
“That’s the challenge for all of us now, to follow John Hume’s lead and rebuild this country.
“The people of Ireland have shown by voting for John Hume that they are grateful for the enormous change he brought.
“He was the architect that rebuilt this country and he is challenging each of us to be our own architect and carry that legacy.”
Former SDLP leader Mark Durkan said he was delighted for Mr Hume.
“John Hume hugely deserves this and I’m delighted for him and Pat that they know they have the appreciation and affection the length and breadth of Ireland for what they stood for, what they stood against and what they withstood.”
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams also congratulated Mr Hume.
“It is a measure of the esteem in which he is held that he secured most votes,” Mr Adams said.
“I am sure his family will be enormously proud.”