For most Americans not of Northern Irish descent, the Troubles are both murky and oversimplified. Many of us assume the Troubles were a religious fight between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland, while the actual origins of this long, bloody and tragic conflict were rooted more firmly in issues of sovereignty, politics and national rights than theology.
Most agree, however, that John Hume — often referred to as an Irish analogue to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — was instrumental in paving the way for the Good Friday Agreement. The Good Friday Agreement or Belfast Agreement is a group of compacts, signed in April 1998 and approved by referendum on May 22 of that year, helped formally end the Troubles by more clearly delineating the relationships between Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom and enshrining certain freedoms and political guarantees.
The 2017 documentary In the Name of Peace: John Hume in America highlights the Nobel Peace Prize winner's role, and the role the U.S. played in the peacemaking process. It's coming to the Tampa Theatre this Wednesday, May 23 as part of the theater's Irish Film Festival, courtesy of Film Tampa Bay, the Northern Ireland Bureau and Embassy & Consulate of Ireland U.S.A., and the screening is going to be something special. Hume's son Aidan, Irish Consul General Shane Stephens, historian Catherine B. Shannon, the Northern Ireland Bureau's deputy director, Danny Kennedy of the Ulster Unionist Party will be on hand for a panel discussion after the film, and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn will also be in attendance.
It's a wonderful opportunity to learn more about one of the more recent and profound events that helped shape the contemporary United Kingdom, as well as the relationship between America's Irish and their homeland, and the influence they had on changing history.