Apprizing the Irish Peace

The Peace Prize goes to John Hume and David Trimble for willing Northern Ireland to its historic agreement.

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OSLO, Norway: Overcoming a history of war is like dancing the tango — it takes two. So John Hume and David Trimble, the Catholic and the Protestant who each convinced their communities to set down their guns in Northern Ireland, will split the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize. It was awarded to the pair for their work toward ending "the national religious and social conflict in Northern Ireland that has cost over 3,500 people their lives," the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced Friday.

The committee called Hume "the clearest and most consistent of Northern Ireland's political leaders in his work for a peaceful solution," and praised Trimble for "great political courage" in completing what may have been the tougher job: getting the Protestants to extend their hand to a minority that some of them view as an enemy guerrilla army. Hume and Trimble passed the credit right along to their constituents, with a warning to their fellow politicians: The "troubles" aren't over 'til they're over.

But a grateful Hume mused that the prize might help keep Ireland's Pandora's box closed. It "strengthens our peace process enormously because it tells all the people what the world wants to see on our streets," he said. And for today, at least, we're getting what we want.