By: Tom O’Neill
Last night was truly an honor. I had the privilege of sitting beside friends and family and watching the story of my dear friend John Hume play out on the big screen in the U.S. premiere of In the Name of Peace: John Hume in America. The feature documentary was the opening night selection for the Boston Film Festival.
This film is the most succinct narrative on the history of Northern Ireland spanning from Bloody Sunday to the Good Friday Agreement I have seen. It depicts the involvement of each individual in the peace process clearly and precisely. The director, Maurice Fitzpatrick, paints an incredibly accurate picture of Hume, my father, the roles of other key political leaders and the struggles of the North of Ireland.
Following the screening, there was a panel discussion with MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews, The Boston Globe’s Kevin Cullen, director Maurice Fitzpatrick and myself. We were all actively involved in politics or journalism during John Hume’s peace efforts. As such, we were well versed and passionate about John Hume as a person and peace for the North of Ireland.
We discussed Hume’s politics. Chris Matthews describing Hume as being a “down-to-earth” politician who explained his views in a way that anyone could understand. He used an example of John discussing the economic needs of Northern Ireland. He believed that if peace could replace the bombings and violence then tourism would grow, more jobs would be create, and all households would benefit.
We discussed Hume’s party, the Social Democratic and Labor Party (SDLP). “The SDLP was John Hume” Kevin Cullen said before going on to talk about how John’s actions essentially signed a “death warrant” for the party.
We discussed the future of Ireland. With the Brexit decision taking effect, Ireland’s peace will be put to the test. Given this, Maurice Fitzpatrick believes there is still a need for U.S. involvement in Ireland politically and economically.
I believe the atmosphere of the room last night can be summed up in a single moment. During the audience Q and A, one attendee declared to Maurice, “[Hume’s story] has got to be on the screen and you put it there.” I could not agree more. It was also special that John’s son Aidan joined us with his own son for this premiere. The story of John Hume’s fight for peace in Ireland is one everyone should know. My father used to say he had three role models in life: President Abraham Lincoln, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Hume. Hume is a symbol of peace, civil rights and the effectiveness of international relations. He is truly an inspiration to all.