Tributes from Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama and Bono have been read at the funeral of John Hume, a key figure in Northern Ireland’s peace process.
The former leader of the nationalist SDLP, widely regarded as the architect of the Good Friday Agreement, died on Monday, aged 83.
With his family and a small number of guests in attendance, it was a socially-distanced funeral for the man who had brought people together.
Officiating at requiem mass in St Eugene’s Cathedral, the Bishop of Derry, the Most Rev Donal McKeown, read a message from the Vatican.
“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,” the message read.
“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.”
The message from the Dalai Lama read: “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 non-violence in the resolution of conflict, no matter how protracted of difficult it may seem to be, will long survive him.
“He lived a truly meaningful life.”
Bono, the lead singer of U2, wrote: “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.”
Ireland’s President Michael D Higgins and Prime Minister Micheal Martin came to pay their respects.
First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill, represented the power-sharing devolved government of Northern Ireland.
Paying tribute to his late father, John Hume junior, said: “At this time of planetary fragility, more than ever, he would be urging that we move beyond our ﬂag-based identities, and recognise the need to protect our common home.
“Central to dad’s work was his deep appreciation of human interdependency.
“We all need one another, we all have a role to play, and all our roles are of equal importance.”