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KILLARNEY, Ireland – John Hume didn’t speak about his role in bringing peace to Ireland, an effort that ultimately earned him the Nobel Prize. Nor did he mention the civil war that cost 3,500 Irish citizens their lives. Instead, he leaned on the podium and talked about starting one of Ireland’s first credit unions with 7. His face broke into a grin when he said today the credit union has 45 million and 22,000 members. Hume delivered his remarks to the World Council of Credit Unions’ 2001 International Conference and Annual meeting that was held here June 1-4. Hume told of his good luck to be awarded a scholarship so he could attend university. An education would have been impossible without that. He was one of seven children with an unemployed father. He said unemployment for men was 30% in his youth, although many of the women worked in a shirt factory. He recited the lyrics of a song and promised to sing it later at the Irish evening planned for the conference. Hume talked of being a young man and going to a credit union conference in Dallas, Texas in 1967. Then-Vice President Hubert Humphrey was the keynote speaker. Hume said that showed him how important credit unions were in the United States. But Hume’s keynote address at the WOCCU conference wasn’t just a trip down memory lane. The Irish peace leader called the first half of the 20th century the worst in the world with two devastating world wars. He said the second half had hope, because men of vision lived and led. Hume called on people to unite for principle, and the principle that is important is for everyone to respect differences. “Humanity transcends nationality, race and religion,” he said. “First you are human.” He pointed out that no one choose to be born in a certain place, with a particular religion, nor a race. The credit union movement embraced that principle that anyone could join a credit union, Hume said. “Spill your sweat, not your blood,” he told attendees. Hume cited statistics for the “real world,” not the places where a large percent of the delegates came from. He said, “80% of the world is homeless or living in low housing conditions. Seventy percent are not educated and 50% are underfed.” He challenged every one in the room to help equalize the conditions for humanity. Credit unions, he feels are one way to do this. He asked all the representatives of the leagues to consult with him or other aid organizations on what they can do to help. Hume does not believe that people should be dependent on others. He made it clear that charity is a good thing, but it’s better to use charity to help people become independent. He felt that by more people spilling their sweat, there will be less need for others to spill their blood. He called on everyone to “Lay the foundations for a new world.” -

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