AS THE CITY of Derry marked the funeral of John Hume yesterday and amidst the outpouring of emotion and gratitude felt by millions towards the Nobel laureate, both Sinn Féin and the DUP pledged unconvincingly to embody Hume’s legacy and truly capitalise on the anti-sectarian future he made possible.
Achievements unmatched by any living Irish person, Hume’s indefatigable quest for peace led the two Stormont leaders to humbly claim with a straight face that while they have always put ‘people before flags’, they were once again all about allowing a post-sectarian Northern Ireland to blossom for, maybe, five minutes tops, before descending into their usual farcical and insulting bickering.
Issuing pronouncements that would hold water were they spoken by leaders who genuinely engender cross-community solidarity, Sinn Féin and the DUP did their best to tick off the ‘these are the sort of things we should say’ box, knowing full well the next pointless dispute is just around the corner.
“As Heaney wrote ‘Once in a lifetime, the longed-for tidal wave of justice rises up and make hope and history rhyme.’ We will honour John Hume’s life’s work in our daily deeds and dealings,” pledged Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill, while staring daggers at a nearby Arlene Foster.
“I couldn’t agree more with Michelle, we must wake each day with a renewed desire to learn and learn again the lessons John taught everyone,” Foster added, briskly brushing past O’Neill, while not directly acknowledging her.
O’Neill and Foster probably added something like ‘his life is an instruction manual for changing lives for the better’ and ‘serve the community not yourself’ but the public, indifferent to their empty words, turned their attention to realising how true the statement ‘once-in-a-lifetime leader’ is.
Elsewhere, in an emotional tribute to the titan of peace, Gerry Adams praised Gerry Adams for John Hume’s achievements.