Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen T.D., pays tribute to John Hume, MEP, MP
Speaking today, Brian Cowen T.D., the Minister for Foreign Affairs, said:
“John Hume has just announced his retirement from the European Parliament and from Westminster.
His service in both parliaments has been an outstanding aspect of a remarkable career. He has given tireless service to the people of Northern Ireland and, indeed, to the people of the whole island.
A committed European, John Hume recognised earlier than many the importance of the EU in our daily lives. More than anyone, he has pointed out the lessons for Ireland of how the EU has helped Europe overcome its history of conflict.
The Northern Ireland he now represents in the European Parliament is far removed from that of 1979, when he first took his seat. Much of the positive change over that time can be directly attributed to John's unceasing efforts to achieve a better Northern Ireland.
The PEACE I and PEACE II programmes – between them contributing one billion euro to the development of Northern Ireland – are tangible results of John's hard work and determination. The success of these programmes shows clearly that John's vision of a stable, peaceful and prosperous Northern Ireland has become the shared vision of the people of Europe.
He will be a loss to the people of Northern Ireland in the European Parliament and a loss to the Parliament.
As we start the Review of the workings of the Good Friday Agreement, it is clear how many of its fundamental principles are rooted in John's vision of an Ireland in which both our traditions live reconciled in peace and prosperity.
His legacy is immense and we are all in his debt.
I wish him and Pat all the best for the future.”