The Peace Prize: A Nobel Mission

Article excerpt

POLITICIANS and a host of celebrities yesterday acclaimed the award of the Nobel Peace Price to David Trimble and John Hume, two men who played vital roles in negotiating the Northern Ireland peace agreement.

It was their work for a settlement to end nearly 30 years of bloodshed which led to the signing of the historic Good Friday Agreement.

It left the way clear for a still deeply divided Province to move into the new millennium free of terrorism.

Mr Hume, the SDLP leader, was in his home city of Londonderry when the announcement was made in Oslo.

Mr Trimble, the First Minister at the new Stormont Assembly, was asleep in a hotel room in Denver, Colorado, where he is on a major economic mission in search of fresh US investment.

Mr Hume, already a winner of dozens of international peace awards, had been widely tipped to receive the Nobel Prize.

But it had been expected that if the award was to be shared then Gerry Adams, who played such a key role in persuading the IRA to call a ceasefire, would have been a joint winner as well.

The Sinn Fein president, who is in New York, praised Mr Hume, but is clearly looking for Mr Trimble to get on with the process back in Belfast where the setting up of a power-sharing executive has been delayed because of the deadlock on decommissioning.

Mr Adams said: "There would be no peace process but for the courage and vision of John Hume. Despite great personal attacks on his integrity and humanity, John never wavered in his commitment to peace. No-one deserves this accolade more.''

He wished Mr Trimble well, but added: "The peace prize carries with it enormous responsibility. The focus must be, for all of us, to push ahead through the speedy implementation of the Agreement.''

Prime Minister Tony Blair, Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam, Eire Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, US President Bill Clinton, Senator George Mitchell, who chaired the crucial Stormont talks, and most of the leaders of the political parties were heavily involved in brokering the agreement.

But it will be Mr Hume and Mr Trimble who will be in Norway on December 18 to receive the award and an equal split of the pounds 560,000 prize money. …