John Hume, legendary in his efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland, will visit Hobart and William Smith Colleges as part of the President’s Forum Series.
February 27, 2002 GENEVA, N.Y.—For more than 30 years Nobel Laureate John Hume has been a driving force behind many of the significant attempts to resolve conflict in Northern Ireland. Next week, the 1998 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, who is also the 2001 recipient of India’s prestigious Gandhi Peace Prize, will discuss the peace process during a visit to Hobart and William Smith Colleges as part of the President’s Forum Series. “The Search for Peace in Northern Ireland: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” will be presented by Hume at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 7, in the Geneva Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library. For those who cannot attend, WEOS FM 89.7/90.3 will broadcast the talk at 7 p.m. The speech will also be Webcast through WEOS.
Hume’s visit is being held in conjunction with a series of events coordinated by The Friendly Sons & Daughters of St. Patrick of the Finger Lakes Region. Later on the day of his visit to the Colleges, Hume will be the featured speaker at the organization’s annual dinner held at the Monroe Golf Club in Rochester. At the dinner, Mark D. Gearan, president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, will serve as the honorary chair, presenting opening remarks and introducing Hume. Gearan served as Deputy Chief of Staff for the Clinton Administration and accompanied President Bill Clinton on the historic visit to Northern Ireland in November 1995, when he became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Northern Ireland.
Hume, who has been unequivocally opposed to violence as a means of resolving conflicts, has been widely credited with bringing unionists and republicans together to make the peace process possible. He is the past president and founder of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, the largest nationalist party in the North of Ireland, representing more than 60 percent of the nationalist community.
A former teacher, Hume first came to prominence through the civil rights movement in the late 1960s, when Catholics demanded substantial changes to the way Northern Ireland was run. The most crucial phase of his political career came in 1988 when Hume began a series of contacts with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams. These were to prove crucial in developing the current process. Further talks became public in 1993 amid considerable controversy and hostility, especially from unionists.
In 2001, Hume was awarded India's prestigious Gandhi Peace Prize for his efforts in the Northern Ireland peace process. The Gandhi Peace Prize is given for outstanding work and contribution to social, economic and political transformation through non-violence and other Gandhian methods.
“Laureate John Hume has been a tireless advocate for peaceful resolution of violence in Northern Ireland,” said Gearan, sponsor of the President’s Forum Series. “At this time in our history John Hume’s experiences will surely offer a perspective worth listening to.”
The President’s Forum lecture series was inaugurated in January 2000 with then First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton who led a discussion on public service. The series has since included such speakers as journalists Gwen Ifill, Sam Donaldson, and George Stephanopoulos, and presidential candidates Ralph Nader and Alan Keyes. The forums are free and the public is encouraged to attend. For more information on the forum, visit the President’s Forum Web site at http://www.hws.edu/academics/community/presidentsforum/index.asp