A foundation in the name of the late Nobel Peace Prize winner, John Hume, and his wife Pat has been established to inspire the next generation of peacemakers.

The cross-community foundation has been set up to promote the peaceful legacy of the former SDLP leader and his wife in the hope that it will assist young people to navigate the big challenges of their time.

The chairman of the John and Pat Hume Foundation, Professor Sean Farren, said Mr Hume's values were needed more than ever to help young people navigate these difficult times.

"In the darkest of days of the Troubles, John Hume was an extraordinary political leader, a statesman and central architect of peace, who charted a path for the people of Ireland, North and South, of all traditions to come together to resolve our differences peacefully and to build a better, more prosperous future for all of our children," Prof Farren said.

"In many ways the next generation is facing many equally dark challenges - the rise of populism and cultural divisions across these islands, Europe and right across the world and other existential challenges such as climate change and rising poverty and inequality.

"This foundation has been established because we believe that the values and ideals of partnership, reconciliation, inclusion and social justice that John and Pat embraced throughout their lives can help support our young people to navigate the profound challenges of their time and inspire the next generation of peace-makers."

Mr Hume was a key architect of Northern Ireland's Good Friday Agreement and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the pivotal role he played in ending the region's 30-year sectarian conflict.

The Derry politician, feted around the world as a peacemaker, died on 3 August aged 83 after a long illness with dementia.


John Hume - A politician blessed with all the gifts


Throughout his political career, the former MP, Stormont Assembly member and MEP, had remained steadfast in his commitment to non-violence.

His foundation is to be unveiled at virtual event due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Further launch events are planned for Dublin, Brussels and Washington - and the foundation is set to host its first "Leadership for Peaceful Change" lecture with Martin Luther King III next week.

Board member Sara Canning, the late Lyra McKee's partner, said: "Even though our generation of young people have been able to grow up outside of the Troubles, our society, both at home and abroad, faces lots of challenges which require us to bring people together, find common ground and move forward.

"Throughout their lives, John and Pat showed the leadership and courage to embrace difference and build a path towards compromise.

"I hope that by being involved with the foundation, I can help inspire this generation and future generations of young people to take these values and ideals and lead in their time."

John Hume with Seamus Mallon after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement

Mr Hume's son, John Hume Jnr, said the Hume family fully supports the creation of the foundation and are particularly pleased that it also recognises their mother's role.

"John and Pat were a team who found inspiration, energy and determination from each other," he said.

"Our mother and father had an unwavering determination to peace, equality and economic justice, all of which are intertwined. Difference should never be the source of conflict, and the foundation will promote that message both here in Ireland and further afield."

He said the family were also delighted that the foundation will be headquartered in Derry.

"The strong community roots of Derry played a formative role in developing our parents political views and determination for peaceful change," he said. "The foundation will thrive from that as well."

Former Progressive Unionist Party leader, and board member, Dawn Purvis said women have been involved in peace building for decades.

"Our contribution is often ignored or viewed as secondary.  When in fact we have shown tremendous courage and taken great risks, sometimes personal risk, to try and bring about peace,"  she said.

"Pat Hume is a courageous leader who, alongside John, demonstrates the humanity needed to regard difference as a virtue, to be celebrated, understood and encouraged to make peaceful change inclusive and sustainable.

"I hope the work of the John and Pat Hume Foundation will be a home, a school and a career guide for current and future leaders involved in peace-building."

The foundation's patrons include former president Mary McAleese and her husband Martin, 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Nadia Murad, Senator George J Mitchell and posthumously Seamus Mallon.

Senior members of the Hume family, including John Hume Jnr and Professor Mo Hume, are closely involved in the leadership of the foundation.

Core to its activity will be the advancement of peaceful change in divided societies nationally and internationally.

It will work to advance social and economic justice, democratic progress, and the building of inclusive and resilient communities as fundamental cornerstones of sustained peace.