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David Trimble: Former first minister hailed a ‘titan of unionism’, as tributes pour in across the divide

Politicians pay homage to man who ‘left an indelible mark’ on island

Lord Trimble “grasped the nettle of peace” and was a “titan of unionism”, according to the two current leaders of unionism in Northern Ireland.

Doug Beattie and Sir Jeffrey Donaldson joined many others across the political spectrum to pay tribute to the former Ulster Unionist Party leader, who died after a short illness at the age of 77.

On Monday night, the Trimble family announced “with great sadness” that the Nobel Peace Prize recipient, former first minister had “passed away peacefully earlier today following a short illness”.

David Trimble was one of the principal architects of the Good Friday Agreement that ended decades of conflict in Northern Ireland.

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Prime Minister Tony Blair with David Trimble and John Hume

Prime Minister Tony Blair with David Trimble and John Hume

UK

Prime Minister Tony Blair with David Trimble and John Hume

Current UUP leader Doug Beattie said Lord Trimble put his “country before his party” and added that he saved lives by taking the “right decisions” during the tense days of peace negotiations.

“He grasped the nettle of peace, he put his head above the parapet and there are people alive today who would not have been alive if he had not done what he done,” Mr Beattie told BBC NI’s Good Morning Ulster.

Remembering David Trimble

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"What price can you put on peace and what price can you put on a life? What David did was the right thing to do. I think he took the right decisions.

"He did believe in peace, he did believe he had one opportunity and he wanted to grab that opportunity. He set us on a course which was the right direction to go.

"His legacy is about bringing peace to Northern Ireland, something we never thought we would get to.

"My thoughts are really with Lady Trimble today and the whole family.”

DUP Leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said Lord Trimble wanted to “build a better future for everyone in Northern Ireland”.

"It is a mark of the man that we have seen tributes right across the community for David and what he wanted to achieve,” Mr Donaldson said.

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Pacemaker Belfast 23/5/98 Unionist leader David Trimble in cheerful mood after the majority Yes Vote at the Kings Hall Belfast

Pacemaker Belfast 23/5/98 Unionist leader David Trimble in cheerful mood after the majority Yes Vote at the Kings Hall Belfast

PACEMAKER BELFAST  9/6/2001  Ulster Unionist party leader David Trimble is ushered to his car by security forces members as a crowd of loyalists bying for his blood surge foreward, shouting, kicking and screaming.

PACEMAKER BELFAST 9/6/2001 Ulster Unionist party leader David Trimble is ushered to his car by security forces members as a crowd of loyalists bying for his blood surge foreward, shouting, kicking and screaming.

David Trimble electionering in Banbridge. May 1990

David Trimble electionering in Banbridge. May 1990

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble with his wife Daphne in Lisburn Co Antrim. Paul Faith/PA Wire

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble with his wife Daphne in Lisburn Co Antrim. Paul Faith/PA Wire

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File photo dated 21/5/1998 of Prime Minister Tony Blair (centre) with (left) David Trimble and (right) John Hume on the last day of campaigning for a Yes vote in the Northern Ireland Referendum. Chris Bacon/PA Wire

File photo dated 21/5/1998 of Prime Minister Tony Blair (centre) with (left) David Trimble and (right) John Hume on the last day of campaigning for a Yes vote in the Northern Ireland Referendum. Chris Bacon/PA Wire

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File photo dated 17/4/2007 of Conservative party leader David Cameron welcomes former Ulster Unionist leader Lord Trimble to his party in Westminster. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

File photo dated 17/4/2007 of Conservative party leader David Cameron welcomes former Ulster Unionist leader Lord Trimble to his party in Westminster. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

UK

File photo dated 24/9/2003 of Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble (left) and Boris Johnson, editor of The Spectator magazine. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

File photo dated 24/9/2003 of Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble (left) and Boris Johnson, editor of The Spectator magazine. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

UK

File photo dated 8/10/2013 of Lord David Trimble (right) and Seamus Mallon at Dublin City University where they received honorary degrees in recognition of their key contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process. Brian Lawless/PA Wire

File photo dated 8/10/2013 of Lord David Trimble (right) and Seamus Mallon at Dublin City University where they received honorary degrees in recognition of their key contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process. Brian Lawless/PA Wire

UK

File photo dated 14/7/1999 of Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble with colleagues speak to the media, after the meeting of the Ulster unionist executive meeting broke up.  Paul Faith/PA Wire

File photo dated 14/7/1999 of Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble with colleagues speak to the media, after the meeting of the Ulster unionist executive meeting broke up. Paul Faith/PA Wire

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File photo dated 1/3/2003 of Ulster Unionist party leader David Trimble during the annual general meeting in Belfast.  Haydn West/PA Wire

File photo dated 1/3/2003 of Ulster Unionist party leader David Trimble during the annual general meeting in Belfast. Haydn West/PA Wire

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An angry Ulster Unionist party leader David Trimble at his press conference after the arms body released their report on the IRA's weapons move. He said there was not enough transparency in the report from the arms body and he was putting events on hold.

Photo...Arthur Allison/Pacemaker...

An angry Ulster Unionist party leader David Trimble at his press conference after the arms body released their report on the IRA's weapons move. He said there was not enough transparency in the report from the arms body and he was putting events on hold. Photo...Arthur Allison/Pacemaker...

Ulster Unionist party leader David Trimble is ushered to his car by security forces members as a crowd of loyalists bying for his blood surge foreward, shouting, kicking and screaming.

Ulster Unionist party leader David Trimble is ushered to his car by security forces members as a crowd of loyalists bying for his blood surge foreward, shouting, kicking and screaming.

PACEMAKER BELFAST 20/10/2000 His Holiness the Dalai Lama meets Sec of State Peter Mandelson, Seamus Mallon and David Trimble in the Waterfront hall this morning, this is the second day of his three day visit to Northern Ireland.

PACEMAKER BELFAST 20/10/2000 His Holiness the Dalai Lama meets Sec of State Peter Mandelson, Seamus Mallon and David Trimble in the Waterfront hall this morning, this is the second day of his three day visit to Northern Ireland.

PACEMAKER BELFAST 2/5/02
First Minister David Trimble and Prime Minister Tony Blair arrive at the Belfast Odyssey to announce a financal package to boost the  Northern Ireland Peace Process.
Picture Pacemaker

PACEMAKER BELFAST 2/5/02 First Minister David Trimble and Prime Minister Tony Blair arrive at the Belfast Odyssey to announce a financal package to boost the Northern Ireland Peace Process. Picture Pacemaker

PACEMAKER BELFAST 19/05/98 Unionist leader David Trimble, SDLP leader John Hume and Bono and U2 pictured together on stage at the Waterfront hall in Belfast this evening for a concert to promote a YES vote in the referendum on Friday

PACEMAKER BELFAST 19/05/98 Unionist leader David Trimble, SDLP leader John Hume and Bono and U2 pictured together on stage at the Waterfront hall in Belfast this evening for a concert to promote a YES vote in the referendum on Friday

PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/11/99  David Trimble waves to the crowd of supporters at the Waterfronthall in Belfast after the Ulster Unionist Councill voted to accept his recomendation to set up the assembly with Sinn Fein.

PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/11/99 David Trimble waves to the crowd of supporters at the Waterfronthall in Belfast after the Ulster Unionist Councill voted to accept his recomendation to set up the assembly with Sinn Fein.

PACEMAKER BELFAST 03/09/98 President Clinton is shown the view of Belfast from the top steps of Parliament Buildings this morning by First minister David Trimble and his Deputy Seamus Mallon and Prime Minister Tony Blair.

PACEMAKER BELFAST 03/09/98 President Clinton is shown the view of Belfast from the top steps of Parliament Buildings this morning by First minister David Trimble and his Deputy Seamus Mallon and Prime Minister Tony Blair.

PACEMAKER BELFAST. Ian Paisley and David Trimble after a meeting to discuss Unionist unity at Ian Paisleys house. 18/9/95.
820/95/c

PACEMAKER BELFAST. Ian Paisley and David Trimble after a meeting to discuss Unionist unity at Ian Paisleys house. 18/9/95. 820/95/c

PACEMAKER BELFAST 02/06/98 Unionist leader David Trimble leads party colleagues Reg Empey, Ken McGuinness MP and Jeffrey Donaldson MP into talks with Prime minister Tony Blair at Stormont castle this morning.

PACEMAKER BELFAST 02/06/98 Unionist leader David Trimble leads party colleagues Reg Empey, Ken McGuinness MP and Jeffrey Donaldson MP into talks with Prime minister Tony Blair at Stormont castle this morning.

PACEMAKER BELFAST     16/9/2003
Ian Paisley, David Trimble at the bottom of the Garvaghy road after the 1995 parade was allowed to pass down the road.

PACEMAKER BELFAST 16/9/2003 Ian Paisley, David Trimble at the bottom of the Garvaghy road after the 1995 parade was allowed to pass down the road.

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/9/99: The Ulster Unionist party led by David Trimble will oppose any change to the RUC even though they themselves have not been beyond taking issue with the force's role as here at Drumcree in 1996 .
PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/9/99: The Ulster Unionist party led by David Trimble will oppose any change to the RUC even though they themselves have not been beyond taking issue with the force's role as here at Drumcree in 1996 . PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER BELFAST 08/04/98: Ulster Unionist Party leader, David Trimble and Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams pass within touching distance outside Castle  Buildings, Stormont during a break in the negotiations before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

PACEMAKER BELFAST 08/04/98: Ulster Unionist Party leader, David Trimble and Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams pass within touching distance outside Castle Buildings, Stormont during a break in the negotiations before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

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Pacemaker Belfast 23/5/98 Unionist leader David Trimble in cheerful mood after the majority Yes Vote at the Kings Hall Belfast

"When the history of this period is written in the future, David will feature prominently in it. Despite our differences David’s objective was to deliver political stability in Northern Ireland.

"Even though we differed at times, you can differ with someone and admire their courage and determination. In David I saw someone who was courageous as a leader.

"Leadership is difficult... at times it can be quite lonely path. When I had many conversations with David I never doubted his commitment to the union.”

The DUP leader also shed light on Lord Trimble’s commitment to politics, saying he “worked day and night”, but added that he “knew how to relax”.

"I remember once travelling across to London on a flight and he was sat on the opposite side of the aisle and there he was reading the latest Harry Potter book. He and Daphne loved to go to the opera,” Sir Jeffrey added.

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Ulster Unionist party leader David Trimble (left) and American politician US President Bill Clinton talk together at the White House, Washington DC, October 7, 1993

Ulster Unionist party leader David Trimble (left) and American politician US President Bill Clinton talk together at the White House, Washington DC, October 7, 1993

Getty Images

Ulster Unionist party leader David Trimble (left) and American politician US President Bill Clinton talk together at the White House, Washington DC, October 7, 1993

Sinn Fein Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill said: “David Trimble’s very significant contribution to the peace process and his courage in helping achieve the Good Friday Agreement leaves a legacy a quarter century on which he and his family can be rightly proud of.”

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood MP said that Lord Trimble’s life has left “an indelible mark on our shared island’s story.”

“Over the course of his political career, but particularly in difficult years of the Good Friday Agreement negotiations, he demonstrated immense courage and took political risks that sustained the life of our fledgling peace process,” he said.

Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said “Lord Trimble’s greatest legacy to his political career is the Good Friday Agreement and the risks he took to both help achieve it, and ensuring the resulting Assembly remained during its unsteady early days. It was at times an unenviable role. His contribution to the peace process and the ending of violence in our society helped secure his place in history.”

Religious leaders also paid their own tributes to the former leader, including Dr John Kirkpatrick, the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

"We remember a man who provided leadership and committed himself to looking to the interests of others over and above his own,” he said.

Church of Ireland Archbishop John McDowell said the death of Lord Trimble has “removed one of the major figures in the political life of Northern Ireland and of these islands”.

PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne also issued his own tribute and sent condolences on behalf of the service, saying Lord Trimble had “contributed immensely” to the peace process.

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The First Minister of the new Northern Ireland Assembly David Trimble and his deputy Seamus Mallon (SDLP) enjoy some humour after being elected at Castle Buildings

The First Minister of the new Northern Ireland Assembly David Trimble and his deputy Seamus Mallon (SDLP) enjoy some humour after being elected at Castle Buildings

The First Minister of the new Northern Ireland Assembly David Trimble and his deputy Seamus Mallon (SDLP) enjoy some humour after being elected at Castle Buildings

The council Mayor colleague of Lord Trimble’s son has also expressed his sympathies on the passing of the former Northern Ireland First Minister.

Nicholas Trimble (UUP) a former Mayor himself, sits on Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council and the current Mayor Scott Carson paid tribute to the Trimble family on behalf of the local authority.

“As Baron Trimble of Lisnagarvey, he continued to champion Northern Ireland in Westminster as a member of the House of Lords,” Mr Carson said.

“His significant contributions to politics are evident not only in Northern Ireland, but across the UK.”

While their views may have differed over the Agreement, TUV leader Jim Allister said they shared a “common determination” to get rid of the Northern Ireland Protocol as joint applicants to its judicial review challenge.

Mr Allister said: “David had a very clear and correct view of the dangers and unacceptability of the Protocol.”

Lord Trimble won the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the late SDLP leader John Hume. Speaking on behalf of the John and Pat Hume Foundation, former Stormont minister Dr Sean Farren said Lord Trimble “demonstrated genuine and courageous leadership during the negotiations that led to the Good Friday Agreement 24 years ago.”

“His leadership was fully acknowledged by the award of the Nobel Peace Prize along with John Hume in 1998. I was privileged to serve in the 1999-2002 Executive led by David and Seamus Mallon. David’s courage was once again manifest in his decision to allow that Executive to be formed notwithstanding opposition from some quarters.”


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