By Jonathan McCambridge, PA
Taoiseach Micheál Martin is to unveil a bust of Nobel laureate John Hume at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Mr Martin is in the French city for a series of engagements in the Council of Europe, marking Ireland’s presidency of the body.
On Tuesday evening he will join the president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, in unveiling a bust of the long-time SDLP leader and key architect of the Good Friday agreement Mr Hume, which has been donated to the parliament by the Irish Government.
It marks the contribution the Nobel Peace Prize winner made during his 25 years as an MEP, and the inspiration he took from the European project in his work.
The bust has been created by artist Liz O’Kane.
Its presentation will be preceded by a lecture on Mr Hume to be given by Tory Peer Lord Patten of Barnes.
Dr Sean Farren, chairman of the John and Pat Hume Foundation said: “The unveiling of the magnificent bust of John Hume at the European Parliament in Strasbourg is a very important moment for the Hume family.
“It also hugely symbolic as the European Union inspired John Hume’s journey of peace, reconciliation and diversity.
“The importance of the EU was clear from his very first visit to Strasbourg in 1979, as a member of the European Parliament.
“John Hume believed that respect for difference was the first principle of European Union.
“His powerful words resonant as strong today, as the people of Ukraine suffer from the violence of others.
“Today, in the face of adversity we must continue to choose the way of peace and step back from the shadow of war.
“We must seek out justice and stand up against intolerance and tyranny.
“We must make real the promise of conflict resolution and move away from the terrible spiral of violence.”
Continuing his visit on Wednesday, the Taoiseach will address the plenary of the European Parliament, reflecting on the 50 years since Ireland decided to join the European Union.
He also hopes to meet the Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament, who will also be visiting the European Parliament.
Mr Martin said: “I greatly look forward to my visit to Strasbourg, the seat of a number of vital European Institutions.
“Ireland currently holds the presidency of the Council of Europe, a body which does vital work to support democracy, the rule of law and human rights across our continent.
“I look forward to discussing its work, especially in the context of the war in Ukraine.
“At the European Parliament I will unveil a bust to mark the career of John Hume, a giant of Irish politics, who drew such inspiration from the European project in his work for peace in Ireland.
“I will also have the honour of addressing the Parliament’s Plenary to mark 50 years since the Irish people decided to join the then European Community.
“That decision was hugely transformative for the country and I will be expressing my view that those looking to join the EU now, including Ukraine, should be able to benefit from the same opportunities.”