25 April 2006

Hume and the RIRA

Daily Ireland

Nobel Prize winner is rebuffed after peace initiative attempt with dissidents

By Connla Young

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usFormer SDLP leader John Hume attempted to broker a peace deal with the Real IRA before retiring from politics, Daily Ireland can reveal.
The Nobel peace prize winner, who retired as MP for Foyle last year, invited the anti-Good Friday Agreement group to enter into talks based on the Hume/Adams model which eventually led to the Provisional IRA’s 1994 ceasefire.
Daily Ireland understands that the former leader of the SDLP met with several individuals close to the leadership of the Real IRA at a house on Derry’s west bank in late 2002.
During the meeting, which was arranged to discuss conditions under which republican prisoners were being held in Maghaberry prison, Mr Hume invited the Real IRA to meet with him on the same basis as the Hume/Adams talks over a decade earlier. The talks which began in 1988 are credited with helping to create a framework for the current peace process.
The Derry man was recognised for his peace efforts by the international community in 1998 when he and former Ulster Unionist Party boss and First Minister David Trimble shared the Nobel Peace Prize.
Although MP for Foyle at the time of the Real IRA offer, Mr Hume handed over leadership of the party he helped establish to fellow Derry man Mark Durkan a year earlier.
While Mr Hume’s attempt to bring the Real IRA campaign to an end was rejected by the grouping, it is believed that informal contacts have been maintained between the paramilitary group and officials from his party.
In a statement issued to Daily Ireland, the Real IRA confirmed that Mr Hume made the offer to meet the its leaders but that offer was rejected.
“Our view was that we are in the business of a united Ireland and unless we are getting that, we are not going to talk about ending our armed struggle.”

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