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John Hume

Nobel Prize for Peace

John Hume: When I come home from university, of course, I thought that I had a duty to help those that weren't as lucky as I was. And, the first thing I did was not -- I wasn't getting involved in politics, because the politics of those days was basically flag-waving and I had always felt politics should be about the living standards of people. But, when I come home, I wasn't interested in politics in those days, but I was interested in helping people, and I got involved in the Foundation of the Credit Union movement. And, of all the things I've been doing, it's the thing I'm proudest of because no movement has done more good for the people of Ireland, north and south, than the credit union movement.
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John Hume

Nobel Prize for Peace

John Hume: Before the arrival of the Credit Union, people who were from the poor background or a working class background couldn't borrow from banks. Banks wouldn't have them, and when they needed to borrow money for rearing their children and for furniture, et cetera, for normal things, then the methodology in those days was either from loan sharks or from pawn shops. And, of course, that meant that people were made poorer by all of that, particularly by the charge of loan sharks. So, what the Credit Union movement did, of course, was not only help the ordinary people to have the true value of whatever their income was, but it helped local business, small business, as well, because the money that would have left your city in loan charges remained and were spent. Therefore -- I mean, when we started the Credit Union in those early days, the first few meetings, a few people joined, but very soon it spread rapidly. And today, that Credit Union -- which I was involved in starting in 1960 -- has 22,000 members, and has something over 40 million pounds in savings of the people. And, of course, all over Ireland today, there's 2.2 million members in Credit Union in a population of five million, and I am very proud that I was President of the Credit Union League of Ireland, of the whole of Ireland, when I was 27 years old.
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John Hume

Nobel Prize for Peace

I stood for election and in that election, I sought a mandate to found a new political party based on social democratic philosophy. In other words, that we would deal with real politics, with housing, with jobs, with voting rights, and not into flag-waving politics, because in my belief that was a common ground, and if you work common ground together, that that would end the divisions in our society. First of all, if you had equality of treatment and then you started working in matters that affect all sections of the community, but of course, given the nature of our politics, it was very difficult to break down those barriers because the governing body insisted in standing by the old-style approach, and it has been a hard, long road.
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John Hume

Nobel Prize for Peace

That there was two mentalities and both mentalities had to change. There was what I called the Afrikaner mind set of the Unionist politicians, which was holding all power in their own hands, and discriminating, and their objective was to protect their identity. We agreed that they had every right to protect their identity, but that their methodology should change because when you have widespread discrimination against a community, as we had in Northern Ireland, in the end, it's bound to lead to conflict. And, our challenge to the change of the Unionist mind set was that -- given their objective of protecting their identity, which we have no quarrel with -- that given their geography and their numbers, the problem couldn't be solved without them. Therefore, they should come to the table and reach an agreement that would protect their identity. Then in my own community, of course, what is called the Nationalist community, there was a mind set -- not a majority mind set, but one that, Ireland is -- based on violence, and of course, that mind set I described as a territorial mind set: "Ireland is our land and you Unionists, Protestants, are a minority. Therefore, you can't stop us uniting." Our challenge to that mind set, my challenge to that mind set, was that it is people that have rights, not territory. Without people, even Ireland is only a jungle, and when people are divided, victories are not solutions.
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Jeremy Irons

Award-winning Stage and Screen Actor

I don't think it's a bad thing, but I've always had a very strong sense of self. And whenever I'm in a situation where I'm wearing the same as 600 other people and doing the same thing as 600 other people, looking back, I always found ways to make myself different, whether it be having a red lining inside of my jacket, having red shoes, it hasn't changed. Having the only bicycle which could fold in half and be dropped from a parachute, having the only Macintosh, which was -- it was a raincoat in this country -- which was shiny and black and three-quarter length. Just various things, looking through my school days. Having the only farm nearby where I could go and smoke and drink beer on a weekend without anybody knowing.
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Jeremy Irons

Award-winning Stage and Screen Actor

A career seemed to me something rather like a prison sentence. That was how I viewed a career, that I would start at the bottom and I'd work my way up the ladder and then I'd retire, and after a little bit I'd die. And I thought there's nothing I want to do like that really. Nothing I want to do enough but I'd like to -- I had read a lot of autobiographies of actors, from Burbage (Shakespeare's leading man), through to Charlie Chaplin, Noel Coward, and all the people in between. That was while I was at school, under the notion that I was collecting them but with no knowledge as to why. But in fact, a lot was -- you know, you don't collect things without reason, and a lot of their lives soaked into me and their attitudes. And to be an outsider seemed to me to be very, very attractive.
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John Irving

National Book Award

No adult in my family would ever tell me anything about who my father was. I knew from an older cousin -- only four years older than I am -- everything, or what little I could discover about him. I mistakenly thought that he and my mother were married and divorced before I was born. As it turned out, I was born in 1942, and my parents didn't divorce until 1944, when I was two. But I was born with that father's name, John Wallace Blunt, Jr., and it probably was a gift to my imagination that my mother wouldn't talk about him, because when information of that kind is denied to you as a child, you begin to invent who your father might have been, and this becomes a secret, a private obsession, which I would say is an apt description of writing novels and screenplays, of making things up in lieu of knowing the real answer.
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John Irving

National Book Award

I think working my way through that process, begin with the end and then work your way back to where you began. Sometimes that's a year, sometimes it's 18 months, where all I'm doing is taking notes. I'm reconstructing the story from the back to the front so that I know where the front is. Now people always ask me, "Well surely something changes. Surely somewhere along the way you get a better idea." In the sequence of events in the middle of the story, that's often true. Sometimes a character I had never thought of -- a minor character or a major/minor one-- will make an appearance in the middle of the story and move the story in a slightly different way. But the ending never changes. It never has. Eleven novels, it never has changed. I might fool around with that first sentence over time, but I won't fool around with the last. It's as clear as a note of music. It is where I'm going.
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