Discussing John Hume and his contribution to peace in Ireland

Dublin City University was delighted to host a screening of Maurice Fitzpatrick’s acclaimed film In the Name of Peace: John Hume in America and host a discussion with Maurice (Director and Producer), and three participants in the talks which led to the 1998 Good Friday peace Agreement -Brid Rogers (former deputy leader of John Hume’s party, the SDLP), Gerry Adams TD (former President of Sinn Féin) and Liz O Donnell (former Irish Government Minister) on Thursday 4th October.

 

Since opening at the Galway Film Fleadh, John Hume in America has featured at over twenty five film festivals across the world including in Toronto, Washington DC, Boston FF, Los Angeles, Perth, Chicago, London, Los Gatos, United Nations FF, Glasgow, Derry, Cork, IFI Festival of Politics, Vancouver (EU FF), Ottawa (EU FF) Moscow, San Francisco, Boston (Irish FF) Sydney, Melbourne, Luxembourg, the Geneva Peace Week Festival in the UN, the Irish Festival of Oulu and—in Brazil—Aracaju, Brasília, Curitiba, Florianópolis and Salvador. It also screened at three parliaments (US Congress, Europe, Ireland) and at The Council for Foreign Relations accompanied by a discussion with former Northern Ireland envoys Dr Richard Haass and Senator George Mitchell at the CFR headquarters in New York. It was launched in Boston at the JFK Library by Senators Paul Kirk and George Mitchell. It also screened in Harvard Law School, Emory University, Notre Dame University, UPenn and UC Berkeley. The accompanying book John Hume in America (Irish Academic Press, 2017) was launched by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Dublin, by Seamus Mallon in Belfast and by Matt Kennedy in the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston.

 

The post-film discussion, moderated by IICRR Director Professor John Doyle, both highlighted little known aspects of John Hume’s immense political contribution from political rivals and colleagues alike, and also allowed for an opportunity to explore the origins of the peace process in the Hume-Adams dialogue of the early 1990s.  Those talks, held in secrecy over many months, laid the basis for subsequent engagement with the Irish and British Governments, the 1994 IRA ceasefire and ultimately the talks which led to the 1998 Agreement.  The participants reflected in particular on the nervousness of party colleagues and the Irish Government when the initiative went public, and the important role of key figures in the US Congress, the US labour movement, the Irish American community and in particular the Clinton White House in creating sufficient momentum to persuade the British Government to engage in a peace process of which they were, initially, intensely suspicious. Apart from the poignancy of the film itself, reflecting on John Hume’s contribution to peace, a comment towards the end by Gerry Adams summed up the mood of the debate – what if John Hume had decided not to take the risks required to make the Hume-Adams dialogue a success? There is compelling international evidence, form the Middle East to Sri Lanka and beyond, that when opportunities for peace are not taken up, they do not always come back quickly.

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