The funeral of former SDLP leader and Nobel Laureate John Hume is underway at St Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry.
The politician was widely regarded as the most influential figure in the peace process.
President Michael D Higgins, Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Northern Ireland’s first and deputy first ministers Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill are among the mourners at the requiem mass in St Eugene’s Cathedral this morning.
Pope Francis paid tribute to Mr Hume which was read out at the mass by Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown:
His Holiness Pope Francis was saddened to learn of the death of Mr. John Hume, and sends the assurance of his prayers to his family and to all who mourn his loss.
Mindful of the Christian faith that inspired John Hume’s untiring efforts to promote dialogue, reconciliation and peace among the people of Northern Ireland, His Holiness commends his noble soul to the loving mercy of Almighty God. To those who mourn his passing in the sure hope of the Resurrection, the Holy Father cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of consolation and strength in Christ the Lord.
A message from the Dalai Lama was also read out:
I am sorry to learn about the passing of John Hume. I would like to offer my condolences to you and the members of the family.
I was pleased to be able to meet John during one of my several visits to Northern Ireland. Indeed, his deep conviction in the power of dialogue and negotiations in resolving the problem in his homeland has been an example of non-violent resolution of issues.
It was his leadership and his faith in the power of negotiations that enabled the 1998 Good Friday Agreement to be reached. His steady persistence set an example for all of us to follow.
Although my fellow Nobel laureate is no longer with us, his message about peace and nonviolence in the resolution of conflict, no matter how protracted or difficult it may seem to be, will long survive him. He lived a truly meaningful life.
With my prayers,
The Dalai Lama
While a tribute from Bono was also conveyed to mourners:
We were looking for a giant and found a man whose life made all our lives bigger.
We were looking for some superpowers and found clarity of thought, kindness and persistence.
We were looking for revolution and found it in parish halls with tea and biscuits and late night meetings under fluorescence.
We were looking for a negotiator who understood that no-one wins unless everyone wins…and that peace is the only victory.
We were looking for joy and heard it in the song of a man who loved his town so well and his missus even more.
We were looking for a great leader and found a great servant.
We found John Hume.
For Pat, Thérèse, Áine, Aidan, John and Mo.