DUBLIN, Ireland - Taoiseach Micheal Martin joined a long list of Irish, Northern Ireland global leaders on Monday in paying tribute to Nobel Peace Prize laureate John Hume, who died on Monday at the age of 83.
Hume, a Catholic leader of the moderate Social Democratic and Labor Party (SDLP) of Northern Ireland was awarded the 1998 Nobel together with David Trimble, the First Minister of Northern Ireland at the time, for the pair's role in securing the historic 1998 Good Friday peace agreement.
Hume at one time said: "Ireland is not a romantic dream; it is not a flag; it is 4.5 million people divided into two powerful traditions. The solution will be found not on the basis of victory for either, but on the basis of agreement and a partnership between both. The real division of Ireland is not a line drawn on the map, but in the minds and hearts of its people."
Hume retired from politics in February 2004 when he was aged 67.
"John Hume was a great hero and a true peace maker," the taoiseach said Monday.
"Throughout his long life he exhibited not just courage, but also fortitude, creativity and an utter conviction that democracy and human rights must define any modern society."
"For over four decades, he was a passionate advocate for a generous, outward-looking and all-encompassing concept of nationalism and republicanism. For him the purpose of politics was to bring people together, not split them apart," Martin said.
"During the darkest days of paramilitary terrorism and sectarian strife, he kept hope alive. And with patience, resilience and unswerving commitment, he triumphed and delivered a victory for peace."
"While the 1998 Good Friday Agreement was the product of many people's work, can anyone really claim that it would have happened without John Hume? He didn't just talk about peace, he worked unstintingly for peace, at times in the face of the most virulent criticism and risk to his life. He knew that to be a peace maker on this island meant being a risk taker," the taoiseach said.
"John Hume's life was one of towering achievement. His vision was realised and while illness took away his voice, his presence remains all around us on this island in the form of political stability and he has left us a powerful legacy of peace and reconciliation."
"Such achievement of course meant much sacrifice a sacrifice shared by his wife Pat and his family but they knew it was for the greater good," Martin added.
The Taoiseach extended the country's sympathies to his wife Pat and his five children Aine, Therese, John jnr, Aidan, and Mo.
"Their grief will be great but they can take pride in the knowledge that they have shared their life with one of the greatest Irish people that ever lived. All people on this island will give thanks for his life," Taoiseach Martin said.
(Photo credit: Mirrorpix, 1971).