John Hume pictured with Cllr Michael Gleeson and Cllr Tom Fleming. Photo: Michelle Cooper Galvin.
By Sean Moriarty
Local tributes have been paid to Nobel laureate and peacemaker John Hume, the ‘father of the Irish peace process’ who died earlier this week.
Mr Hume, aged 83, died at his Donegal home on Monday and was laid to rest in St Eugene’s Cathedral in his home city on Wednesday.
Born in Derry/Londonderry, John Hume was the second leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) from 1979 to 2001. He served as a member of the European Parliament and a member of the UK parliament, as well as a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Regarded as one of the most important figures in the recent political history of Ireland he was one of the architects of the Northern Ireland peace process. The co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize with Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble in 1998, Hume was also recognised with the Gandhi Peace Prize and the Martin Luther King Award - the only recipient of all three major peace awards.
In 2010, he was named 'Ireland's Greatest' in a public poll by RTÉ.
Local priest Fr Tom Looney has fond memories of Hume. They both attended Maynooth University and graduated on the same day in 1958. They both studied under Fr Tomas O’Fiaich who later became The Cardinal of All Ireland.
Later in his career Fr Tom was appointed parish priest in Wembley, London where Hume’s nephew become one of his alter servers.
Fr Tom is synonymous with the Church of Christ, The Prince of Peace Church in Fossa which was officially opened in June 1977 at the height of The Troubles in Northern Ireland.
The church’s name was chosen as a mark of hope that peace could be achieved in Northern Ireland and the Fossa Parish Pastoral Council purposely employed Derry-based architect Liam McCormick to design the building.
Speaking to the Killarney Advertiser on Wednesday morning, the day of Hume’s funeral, Fr Tom recalled the great man.
“We graduated on the same day and I always followed his life with great interest. John Hume wanted peace in Northern Ireland, and here we are standing in the Church of Christ, the Prince of Peace – a place of prayer for peace - on the day of his funeral,” Fr Tom said. “I was glad to meet him again on his visit to Tralee.”
Hume was the guest speaker at the Labour Party’s National Conference which was held in the Brandon Hotel in Tralee in 1999.
Current Councillor Michael Gleeson met John Hume in 2000 when he came to North Cork to celebrate the life of Ballydesmond native Nora Herlihy who was one of the founders of the Irish Credit Union.
Although best remembered for political roles, Hume was also a firm advocate of the Credit Union movement. He was a founding member of the Derry branch and was appointed the youngest ever president of the Irish League of Credit Unions, at the age of 27.
At the time Hume was honoured with a civic reception by Killarney Town Council in recognition of his trojan work in both the political life of Northern Ireland and with the Credit Union movement.
“I met him in Rathmore during that visit. We spoke firstly about a former neighbour of mine and former Spa football colleague, who worked with John for a short while in a Derry College,” Mr Gleeson told the Killarney Advertiser.
“We obviously spoke of the great movement that is the Credit Union in which I have a great interest in. John was, from the words he spoke at the Civic Reception and in private in Rathmore, deeply committed to the overall betterment of ordinary people in their daily existence. There were no airs or graces about him. An ordinary person trying to do ordinary deeds extraordinarily well. He had courage, commitment, great honesty and the lack of the insidious plague of bitterness.”
Sean Counihan was the Mayor of Killarney at that time. The Civic Reception took place in The Park Hotel and the former councillor remembered the occasion this week.
“John Hume was a visionary, a peacemaker and community activist who saw working people suffer during The Troubles. In my view John Hume was one of the great people of this country. He strived for social justice for his people and was one of the great people of Ireland,” he told the Killarney Advertiser. “To his wife Pat, who was always by his side, it was my pleasure on behalf of the people of Killarney to have had the opportunity, with my council colleagues, to have afforded you Killarney’s highest honour.”
The Cathaoirleach of Kerry County Council, Cllr Patrick Connor Scarteen this week opened an online Book of Condolences.
Cllr Connor-Scarteen said that John Hume made an immense contribution to peace on the island of Ireland and that he was pleased to afford the people of Kerry the opportunity to express their sympathies and share their messages on Mr Hume at this sad time.
The online Book of Condolences can be accessed via the Kerry County Council website, www.kerrycoco.ie.
Fossa School says ‘bonjour’ to French classes
Fossa National School is giving its pupils a headstart in learning a new language.
The school signed up to Language Sampler scheme as part of the ‘Say Yes to Languages’ initiative in primary schools organised by Post Primary languages Ireland in 2021. This is the school’s third year running the module.
Hélène Olivier-Courtney, the school’s French teacher and director of French For All Killarney School of French, covers ten schools in Kerry over the three terms.
The success of the initiative relies on an all-school approach and the active involvement of class teachers and management.
“The whole staff in Fossa certainly helped make this new journey a special and enjoyable experience for the children as we learnt French through art, songs, games and food tasting! This year, we also organised a catwalk on our last day. Our sixth-class students will have such a head start before secondary school and most importantly will have develop curiosity interest and love for the language,” said Hélène.
Opinion: Silent majority needs to stand up and call out far-right hate
By Chris Davies
Last Friday’s Dublin Riots should not have come as a surprise to anyone. It has been bubbling under the surface of Irish society for a good number of years now. The actions of a small minority last week was a culmination of years of racism, hatred and misinformation shared online by far-right groups.
Late on Friday night a disturbing WhatsApp voice note was doing the rounds on social media where a far-right actor could clearly be heard encouraging violence on the streets of Dublin.
“’Seven o’clock, be in town. Everyone bally up, tool up…Any foreigner, just kill them”
Watching the Riots unfold on social media brought me back to when I was working in Dublin a number of years back. My morning commute from Skerries to the city centre involved a dart to Connolly Station followed by a short trip on the Luas to the Jervis. Every week, without fail, I would witness at least one racial slur or attack on someone who didn’t fit the narrow minded view of what an Irish person should look, dress or talk like. I don’t know if it is the eerie silence of public transport that seems to amplify the situation, but that’s where I found it to be most common. The abuse was usually perpetrated by a group of youths or someone who was clearly under the influence of drink or drugs. The victims were always of colour, often dressed smartly enough to presume they were on their way, or coming from work. A far cry from the perpetrators who you could tell were roaming aimlessly around the city looking for trouble.
While shameful to admit, I would often look on and watch the abuse unfold, only to spend the rest of my work day thinking about the poor person who was told to “F*&K off back to your own country”. I would sit at my desk questioning why I didn’t step in and say something. There were one or two occasions where I did step in and call it out, but not nearly often enough.
This disgusting behaviour is much more visible in our cities. Since moving back to Killarney I wouldn’t witness as much direct abuse on the streets but working with the Killarney Advertiser I would be tuned in to local news and some of the comments I read on our social platforms are far worse than anything I witnessed during my time in Dublin.
There is a significant group of people in Ireland that I would call the ‘silent majority’. We are not as outspoken on issues we care about. We tend to observe and consume the news quietly, and only speak of our support or disgust on certain issues in close circles, too afraid we might offend someone. The problem with this is that we are leaving these far-right groups unchallenged, to become louder, more aggressive and more hostile as seen last week.
The past week Sinn Fein and the Social Democrats have been busy in the media expressing no confidence in Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris but I would suggest that there is a large percentage of the Irish population that bears some of the responsibility. We witness racism in our communities and online every day and we need to start speaking up and calling it out.
On the issue of immigration in Killarney, there is no doubt resources are being stretched and our tourism industry is suffering as a result of an influx of immigration. Locals have also raised concerns in relation to the placement of so many male international protection applicants in one setting and we only have to look back on the incident in Hotel Killarney last year where a number of men were involved in a harrowing stabbing incident to see how that played out.
However, being concerned around immigration is not the same as anti-immigration. It is important to raise these issues with local representatives and Kerry TD’s but also to separate ourselves from far-right groups who are only interested in encouraging violence.
The anarchy we witnessed last week should never be the answer and research shows it is completely unnecessary. Harvard University have looked at hundreds of protests over the last century, and found that non-violent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns and that it only takes around 3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change.
Let’s continue to protest peacefully for issues we believe in, but stand up and speak out against people and movements in our community that incite hate and violence.
Fossa School says ‘bonjour’ to French classes
Fossa National School is giving its pupils a headstart in learning a new language. The school signed up to Language...
Opinion: Silent majority needs to stand up and call out far-right hate
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