Family of John Hume ask those who can't attend funeral to 'light a candle for peace'

Family of John Hume ask those who can't attend funeral to 'light a candle for peace'
Flowers and a message to the late John Hume rest below a Free Derry Corner in the Bogside of Derry City that shows Hume and others important figures during the movement. Picture: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The family of the late John Hume have asked that people who cannot attend the funeral due to social distancing guidelines to take part in a "celebration of light for peace" to honour his memory.

The family have said they are "very grateful" to the public for the reaction to the news of Mr Hume's death yesterday.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner died aged 83.

Father Paul Farren, Administrator of the Cathedral of Saint Eugene in Derry outlined the family's wishes.

"The family are anxious that a public gathering for John`s funeral might inadvertently put someone's health at risk in the context of the current Covid-19 pandemic, and are asking that people express their grief by staying at home and joining with the Hume family in a 'celebration of light for peace,'” he said.

“Instead of lining roads and streets to show respect to John, it is the wish of the Hume family that we remain at home and, at 9pm, light a candle and join with the family to pray the Prayer for Peace of Saint Francis of Assisi in the presence of John`s body in the Cathedral," Fr Farren added.

"This 'celebration of light for peace' is a fitting tribute to a much loved and distinguished Irishman.”

Mr Hume’s coffin will leave Moville across the border at 7.30pm on Tuesday and is expected to arrive at the cathedral at around 8.30pm.

His family added: “We know that he would have prioritised public health and the safety and health of our communities. We’re asking people to follow that guidance – please do not put yourself or others at risk. Instead, we would ask that people light a candle for peace at 9pm in their homes or at their door.”

Mr Hume, a former MP, Stormont Assembly member and MEP, was a founding member of the party he went on to lead for 22 years.

He was a key figure in the civil rights campaigns of the late 1960s and also played a leading role in the formation of the credit union movement.

Throughout his political career he remained steadfast in his commitment to non-violence.

His participation in secret talks with then Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams in the late 1980s and early 1990s was a key catalyst for the nascent peace process.

The SDLP leader faced intense criticism, including some from within his own party, when his dialogue with Mr Adams became public in 1993.

Despite threats to his life, he persisted with his efforts to engage with the republican movement and to convince the IRA to end its campaign of violence.

Mr Hume, as well as David Trimble of the UUP, were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their role in the peace process in the North.

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