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John Hume
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John Hume

John Hume (born January 18, 1937) is a Northern Ireland politician. He was the second leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party from 1979 until 2001. He has served as a MEP in Europe and a MP at Westminster (for the Foyle constituency) as well as a member of the Northern Ireland parliament. He is regarded as one of the most important figures in the political history of Northern Ireland and one of the architects of the peace process there. Hume was the co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize.

Hume was born in the prodominantly nationalist city of Derry (also known as Londonderry), and educated at St. Columb's College, Derry and St Patrick's College, Maynooth, the leading Catholic seminary in Ireland and a recognised college of the National University of Ireland, where he intended to study for the priesthood. He did not complete these studies and returned home to his native city and became a teacher]. He was a founder member of the Credit Union movement in the city. Hume became a leading figure in the Derry civil rights movement in the late 1960s having been prominent in the unsuccessful fight to have Northern Ireland's second university established in Derry in the mid-sixties. He became an independent member of the Northern Ireland Parliament in 1969 at the height of the civil rights campaign and a Westminster MP in 1983. A founder member of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), he succeeded Gerry Fitt as its leader in 1979. He has also served as one of Northern Ireland's three MEPss.

Hume is credited with being the thinker behind many of the recent political developements in Northern Ireland, from Sunningdale power-sharing to the Anglo-Irish Agreement and the Belfast Agreement. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998 alongside the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, David Trimble. On his retirement from the leadership of the SDLP in 2001 he was praised across the political divide, with some of the warmest praise ironically coming from longtime opponent, fellow MP and MEP and friend the Rev. Ian Paisley.

On 4 February 2004 Hume announced his complete retirement from politics. He would not be contesting the 2004 European elections or the next British general election.

Further reading