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.
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.
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.
"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.
"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.
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.
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.”