People urged to light candles of peace in tribute to John Hume

The family of John Hume have urged people in his home city to light a candle to pay tribute to his peacemaking legacy.

The former SDLP leader’s body will be taken from Moville in Co Donegal to St Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry on Tuesday evening ahead of his funeral on Wednesday.

Mr Hume was a key architect of the Belfast Agreement and was awarded the Nobel Prize for the pivotal role he played in the peace process

He died on Monday aged 83, having endured a long battle with dementia.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>John Hume’s funeral will take place on Wednesday morning in Derry (Niall Carson/PA)</figcaption>
John Hume’s funeral will take place on Wednesday morning in Derry (Niall Carson/PA)

In ordinary circumstances, Mr Hume’s removal service and subsequent funeral would have been expected to draw huge crowds, but numbers will now be limited due to coronavirus restrictions.

Mr Hume’s widow, Pat, and other family members have urged people to stay at home and instead light a candle for peace.

“John loved the people of Derry and Donegal,” the family said.

“The heartfelt and sincere condolences that we have received from people across the island, but particularly from the communities John loved being a part of, have been immensely comforting to us.”

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>SDLP leader Colum Eastwood signs a book of condolence at Guildhall in Derry City (Liam McBurney/PA)</figcaption>
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood signs a book of condolence at Guildhall in Derry City (Liam McBurney/PA)

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.”

Fr Paul Farren, from St Eugene’s Cathedral, said: “Pat and her family are very grateful for the outpouring of love and support following the death of their beloved John.

“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.

“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 9.00pm, 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.

“This Celebration of Light for Peace is a fitting tribute to a much loved and distinguished Irishman.”

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Former US President Bill Clinton with former SDLP leader John Hume on a visit to Derry (Paul Faith/PA)</figcaption>
Former US President Bill Clinton with former SDLP leader John Hume on a visit to Derry (Paul Faith/PA)

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.