Former Irish politician and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume died on Monday at the age of 83, his family said in a statement. He passed away in the early hours of Monday at the Owen Mor nursing home in Londonderry, reports the BBC.
The former teacher and of the highest-profile politicians in Northern Ireland for more than 30 years, came to prominence during the Civil Rights Movement in 1968. He was one of the founding members of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) in 1970.
Battle With Dementia
He became the leader of the party in 1979, a post which he relinquished in November 2001. Hume, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998, had been suffering from dementia for many years. In a statement, his family said: "John was a husband, a father, a grandfather, a great grandfather and a brother. He was very much loved, and his loss will be deeply felt by all his extended family."
Politicians have paid their tributes to Hume, also known as one of the architects of the Northern Ireland peace process, the BBC reported. Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said that Hume was a "great hero and a true peacemaker". "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."
A Visionary, Says Tony Blair
Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair called him "a political titan; a visionary who refused to believe the future had to be the same as the past", while First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster said: "In our darkest days he recognized that violence was the wrong path and worked steadfastly to promote democratic politics."
In his message, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said: "We can never repay all that John did for us but we can live the values that meant so much to him. We shall overcome."