To mark the twenty-fifth anniversary year of the Belfast Good Friday agreement, Ulster University welcomes an exhibition for the first time to Northern Ireland, to celebrate one of the occasion’s principal architects, John Hume. In partnership with the European Parliament Liaison Office in the UK and The John and Pat Hume Foundation, the exhibit which launched yesterday evening in Derry~Londonderry, will embark on a year-long tour across the university campuses including Coleraine and Belfast.
The display also honours twenty-five years since Hume was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with David Trimble for their efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland. The exhibition, “He made hope and history rhyme” takes inspiration from the words of fellow Nobel prize winner and friend, Seamus Heaney.
Professor Cathy Gormley-Heenan, Provost Ulster University expresses:
“As our year long programme of events reflecting on the Belfast Good Friday agreement draws to a close, its only right that we return again to the architects of change that were instrumental in bringing about the peaceful times that we live in– with all the opportunities and potential they created. We are delighted to partner with the European Parliament Liaison Office UK and The John and Pat Hume Foundation to host this prestigious exhibition at Ulster University. As a son of the city, it is fitting that the exhibition launches its 2024 tour of all our campuses across the region in his home of Derry~Londonderry”
“An MEP for quarter of a century and European of the Year, Hume worked tirelessly to broker peace and reconciliation in his native land. The everyday injustices of life in the north and especially in his divided hometown led Hume to join the civil rights movement in the 1960s and to forge a philosophy encapsulated in this quote: “Difference is of the essence of humanity. Difference is an accident of birth and it should therefore never be the source of hatred or conflict. The answer to difference is to respect it. Therein lies a most fundamental principle of peace: respect for diversity.”
Susanne Oberhauser, Director of the European Parliament Liaison Office in the UK comments;
“John Hume never tired of reminding us how the peace process in Northern Ireland has been so heavily inspired by the example of the European Parliament and the European project. As he liked to recall: “The union of Europe was the inspiration for our [Good Friday] agreement. The first time I went to Strasbourg in 1979 as a Member of the European Parliament, and I went to neighbouring Germany, I thought that if, in 1945, someone had said that these two countries would be reunited in Europe and that Strasbourg would be the symbol city of this hope, they would have been sent to the psychiatrist. The European Union is the best example of conflict resolution in the history of the world. All the regions at war must study the way in which Europe was built.” Thus, this project is particularly dear to our hearts and we are honoured to contribute to the remembrance of his legacy.”
Tim Attwood, Foundation Secretary, John and Pat Hume Foundation states:
“The John and Pat Hume Foundation welcome this excellent opportunity to partner with the European Parliament Liaison Office UK and Ulster University to showcase John Hume’s work as a Member of the European Parliament and the fact that the mission of the European Union inspired his courageous journey to build peace and reconciliation in Ireland through dialogue, partnership and bridge-building.
“Two days short of John Hume’s eighty seventh birthday and fifty years after Ireland officially became a member of the European Economic Community (EEC), it is our duty to keep faith with the Hume principles, keep his dream of peace and non-violence alive and inspire current and emerging courageous leaders for peaceful change, at home and in conflicts internationally, who will chart a better way forward and build a more just and prosperous future for all our children.”
The exhibition features panels with highlights of Hume’s role in the peace process alongside a bronze bust, one of only five specially commissioned pieces created by Ballymena born sculptor, Liz O’Kane. The remaining busts are installed at the Irish embassies in Washington DC, London, the European Parliament in Strasbourg and Leinster House in Dublin. After the tour of Ulster University’s campuses this piece will take up residence in the Guildhall in December 2024. Alongside the exhibition is a creation by Dublin tapestry artist, Catherine O’Connor whose grandparents hail from Derry~Londonderry. The tapestry, commissioned by friends of John and Pat Hume shines a light on Pat and the strength of her relationship with John and her integral role in the peace process.
The exhibition is free and open to the public from Wednesday 17 January – Friday 29 March and is located on the ground floor lobby of the MU building, Derry~Londonderry campus.