President Michael D Higgins released a statement paying tribute to the late John Hume this morning. Describing him as an apostle and seeker of peace, he said that "we are all grieving in this difficult year".
“All of those who sought and worked for peace on our island of Ireland, and in the hearts of all, will have been deeply saddened by the passing of John Hume, Nobel Peace Laureate and Statesman.
John Hume, through his words, his astute diplomacy and willingness to listen to what was often difficult to accept but was the view of the ‘Other’, transformed and remodelled politics in Ireland, and the search for peace, with a personal bravery and leadership, and with a steadfast informed by a steadfast belief in the principles and values of genuine democracy."
Commending him for his "deep commitment" and his "practical demonstration of tolerance and social justice", the President credited Hume with helping us to "usher in a discourse that enabled a new era of civil rights and responsive government that few would have thought possible".
Acknowledging that the whole country will feel John's loss, President Higgins finished by saying that the greatest loss is, of course, to his family.
"Whatever the loss to all on this island, to his family his loss is greatest. To his wife Pat, his children, and all those who loved him, Sabina and I send our deepest sympathy."