(CNN) — Northern Irish Nobel Laureate John Hume, one of the driving forces behind the Good Friday Agreement which brought decades of deadly sectarian violence across Ireland to an end, died Sunday at the age of 83.
The Northern Irish Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), which Hume helped to found, announced his death in a statement published Monday.
“Nobel Laureate and former SDLP Leader John Hume passed away last night,” reads the statement. “We all live in the Ireland he imagined — at peace and free to decide our own destiny. Thank you, John.”
Hume was one of the architects of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which ended the violent conflict in Northern Ireland by bringing unionists and Irish republicans into a power-sharing government.
Later that year he and David Trimble, of the Ulster Unionist Party, were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of their work “to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland,” according to the Nobel committee.
In their 1998 statement announcing the prize, the committee wrote that “John Hume has throughout been the clearest and most consistent of Northern Ireland’s political leaders in his work for a peaceful solution. The foundations of the peace agreement … reflect principles which he has stood for.”
On Monday, the SDLP praised Hume’s influence in changing the course of Irish history.
“The death of John Hume represents the loss of 20th Century Ireland’s most significant and consequential political figure,” the party said.
Hume’s family also released a statement, revealed that he died at a nursing home in Derry, also known as Londonderry, following a “short illness.”
“It seems particularly apt for these strange and fearful days to remember the phrase that gave hope to John and so many of us through dark times: We shall overcome,” they said.
The SDLP’s statement also included a quote from Hume himself: “I never thought in terms of being a leader. I thought very simply in terms of helping people.”