FORMER US President Bill Clinton has paid special tribute to Nobel Prize laureate and lifelong peace activist John Hume following his sad passing, aged 83.
Hume is widely credited as one of the main architects of the Good Friday Agreement and a key player in the establishment of the power-sharing government that exists in Northern Ireland today.
Clinton kick-started the previously stalled Northern Ireland peace process in separate meetings with the parties involved using St. Patrick's Day to give new impetus to return to the talks.
It's a contribution he ranks among his greatest achievements as US President.
“John Hume, and the results he achieved in Northern Ireland, stand as a stunning rebuke to the people who chose violence,” Clinton is quoted as saying by the Derry Journal.
“He was Ireland’s Martin Luther King."
In subsequent statement on behalf of both he and Hillary, Clinton recalled Hume as a “dear friend” reminiscing about the time they spent together in Derry.
He also remembered Hume’s “unshakeable commitment to nonviolence, persistence, kindness, and love".
President Clinton said: "Hillary and I are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend John Hume, who fought his long war for peace in Northern Ireland.
“His chosen weapons: an unshakeable commitment to nonviolence, persistence, kindness, and love. With his enduring sense of honor, he kept marching on against all odds towards a brighter future for all the children of Northern Ireland.
"Through his faith in principled compromise, and his ability to see his adversaries as human beings, John helped forge the peace that has held to this day.
"I’ll never forget our night in Derry in 1995, with the town square and blocks around full of hopeful faces, walking with him across the Peace Bridge nearly 20 years later, and all of the moments we shared in between.
"His legacy will live on in every generation of Northern Ireland’s young people who make John’s choice, to live free of the hatred and horror of sectarian violence. And it will endure in the hearts of those of us who loved him and will be shaped by his example to the end of our days.
"Our love and prayers are with Pat, their children, and grandchildren. May he rest in peace, never losing the twinkle in his eye or the sly smile that lighted our lives."