In 1985 Hume initiated private talks with Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Féin, a party committed to the unconditional unification of Ireland, by violence if necessary. When the talks became public in 1993, both men were subjected to ferocious criticism, and physical attacks were made on the homes of SDLP members. He went on, however, to architect the 1998 Good Friday Accord.
Hume formally retired from politics in 2004. On retirement he was praised across the political divide. In the words of former U.S. President Clinton, John Hume remains “Ireland’s most tireless champion for civil rights and its most eloquent spokesman for peace.”