John Hume Biography

(Irish Leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (1979-2001))
John Hume

Birthday: January 18, 1937 (Capricorn)

Born In: Londonderry, Northern Ireland

John Hume was one of the most towering figures of the 20th century who played a major role in the Northern Ireland’s peace processes. Regarded by many as the only person to have singularly engineered this peace process, he is credited for having adhered to non-aggressive and diplomatic methods in achieving several political goals. He was renowned for his ability to steer his country in the right direction during the time when North Ireland was in complete chaos. Unlike many of his fellow politicians and activists, he firmly believed that the path of harmony and reconciliation would not only end the strife in his homeland but also make way for a healthier future, where the next generation shall not witness the bloodshed he saw in his lifetime. A proud recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Hume is truly a hero who played a pivotal role in putting an end to decades of violence and changed the course of his nation forever. He fought against all odds, including threats to his life, to achieve his only goal – peace in Northern Ireland. However, his job did not end with this; he continued to involve himself in several socio-political issues faced by the greater population of the world and addressed several meetings and conferences held for this purpose.

Quick Facts

Died At Age: 83


Spouse/Ex-: Patricia Hume

Born Country: Ireland

Political Leaders Irish Men

Height: 6'1" (185 cm), 6'1" Males

political ideology: Social Democratic and Labour Party

Died on: August 3, 2020

place of death: Londonderry, Northern Ireland

Ancestry: Scottish Irish

Notable Alumni: St Patrick's College, Maynooth

Diseases & Disabilities: Dementia

More Facts

education: St Patrick's College, Maynooth

awards: 1996 - Four Freedoms Freedom of Speech Medal Recipient
1998 - Nobel Prize for Peace (co-recipient)
1999 - Martin Luther King Peace Award

2001 - International Gandhi Peace Prize
2005 - Gandhi King Ikeda Community Builders Prize

Childhood & Early Life
Born in Derry, North Ireland, Hume attended the St. Columb's College and St. Patrick's College, Maynooth - one of the best Catholic colleges to study priesthood.
After obtaining an M.A. degree, he went back to his hometown to work as a teacher.
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While working as a teacher, he became actively involved with the credit union movement in his city and also participated in the civil rights movement of 1960s. He was one the founding members of the Derry Credit Union.

In 1964, at the age of 27, he was appointed as the President of the Irish League of Credit Unions, a trade association for credit unions. He was the youngest person ever to have presided over the body.

In the 1960s, he campaigned for the Nationalist Party, but in 1964, he resigned from the party to join the National Democratic Party whose aim was to unite Ireland.

In 1969, he became a member of the Parliament of Northern Ireland as an Independent Nationalist and in 1973, he was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The following year he was made the Minister of Commerce for a brief period and in 1979, he became the leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). He was also one of the Members of the European Parliament of Northern Ireland.

After serving as a faculty member in the Boston College, USA, he received an honorary degree in 1995.

On 4 February 2004, he stepped down as the leader of SDLP and made a public statement about his complete withdrawal from politics. However, he made several public speeches pertaining to global issues in various parts of the world.

Major Works

While serving as the Minister of commerce, he played a crucial role in the ‘Sunningdale Agreement’ which was signed on December 9, 1973, to establish a power-share between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Hume is known to have held secret talks with the British government and Sinn Fein, an Irish republican political party in the Northern Ireland, which paved way for the Anglo-Irish Agreement. The agreement was signed to help bring peace in Northern Ireland.

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In 1993, he initiated Hume-Adams statement to call off the armed struggle and enter a truce with the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

Following this, Britain, Ireland and Northern Ireland began peace negotiations, which led to the Belfast Agreement. The Belfast Agreement is one of the most important political peace processes of the 1990s.
Awards & Achievements

Hume’s contributions to the peace process in the then turbulent Northern Ireland earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998.

He was announced as Ireland's greatest person on 22nd October 2010.

He received the Martin Luther King Award in 1999, and the International Gandhi Peace Prize in 2001, for his efforts in bringing about peace in Northern Ireland.

In 2012, he was honored as the Knight Commander of the Papal Order of St. Gregory the Great, given by Pope Benedict XVI.

Personal Life, Legacy & Death

He was married to Patricia and the couple had five children – three daughters and two sons.

John Hume died on August 3, 2020, at the age of 83, at a nursing home in Derry.


This great Irish politician is the only person to have received three major peace prizes viz. the Nobel Peace Prize (1998), the Gandhi Peace Prize and the Martin Luther King Award (both in 2005).

See the events in life of John Hume in Chronological Order

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