Eoghan Harris - Political Career - Attacking John Hume

Attacking John Hume

Harris, along with fellow Sunday Independent columnist Eamon Dunphy, became an outspoken critic of Social Democratic and Labour Party leader John Hume over Hume's decision to hold talks with Sinn Féin prior to an IRA ceasefire. Harris urged the Irish Government, then led by his friend John Bruton to end all support for Hume's peace efforts. He wrote, "If we persist with the peace process it will end with sectarian slaughter in the North, with bombs in Dublin, Cork and Galway, and with the ruthless reign by provisional gangs over the ghettos of Dublin. The only way to avoid this abyss is to cut the cord to John Hume". Hume argued that he was seeking to convince republicans to abandon violence. The resulting Belfast Agreement was strongly praised by Harris. Hume won the Nobel Peace Prize, along with David Trimble, in 1998 for his efforts. In the late 1990s he became the first Roman Catholic political advisor (and the first ex-Marxist advisor), to David Trimble, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party. He wrote some of his speeches, one of which included the line that Northern Ireland had been "a cold house for Catholics." He was invited to address the UUP annual conference in 1999 where he described the Belfast Agreement as "an Amazing Grace" and urged the UUP to make a leap of faith in Sinn Féin. They eventually did so, forming a power-sharing executive, although it was later suspended on the issue of the lack of IRA arms decommissioning.

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