It’s been 50 years since the phone rang in the Hume house in Derry one day in June and Pat Hume answered to find Senator Edward Kennedy on the line. When she went to tell her husband, he was in disbelief.
“Shoot the other one,” he said, before being persuaded the US senator was on the phone because he’d heard John Hume was “the man to talk to about peace in Ireland.” The senator asked him if he would fly to Bonn in Germany to meet him.
Senator Kennedy later recalled the gist of the meeting: “He [Hume] saw it as a political process that was going to be built on different traditions and mutual respect…I think it’s important to listen to those who risk their lives and try to do so in a non-violent way.
The bill and its implications will fill many columns in the days and weeks to come, but little will be said about the fundamental principles underlying John Hume’s other great legacy, the credit union movement. At a time when the worst cost of living crisis in four decades is causing real hardship, it’s worth reaffirming the values of a movement that puts people before profit.