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Northern Ireland Assembly recalled for tributes to Lord Trimble

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David Trimble

David Trimble

PA

David Trimble

Northern Ireland's political leaders are set to return to Stormont later on Tuesday for a special sitting to deliver tributes to Nobel Peace Prize winner David Trimble.

The special sitting will begin at noon and will give MLAs an opportunity to remember the former Ulster Unionist Party leader, who died last week aged 77. Led by Speaker Alex Maskey at Tuesday's sitting, MLAs will also sign a book of condolence.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Taoiseach Micheal Martin were among the mourners who were present at Lord Trimble's funeral in Lisburn on Monday.

Irish President Michael D Higgins was also among those who gathered at Harmony Hill Presbyterian Church.

Lord Trimble was the leader of the UUP from 1995 to 2005 and was the first person to serve as first minister of Northern Ireland.

He was instrumental in the negotiations which led to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, of which he was also a signatory. The agreement brought to an end the worst of 30 years of violence in Northern Ireland.

Rev Dr Charles McMullen appealed at the funeral service for politicians to use the occasion as inspiration to redouble their efforts to resolve their differences over the protocol.

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He said: "Can we use this service today, in a fitting tribute to one of the great, to redouble our efforts on this island home of ours?

"With courage, pragmatism and generosity of spirit, may our politicians engage wholeheartedly in resolving the outstanding issues surrounding the Northern Ireland Protocol, so that our democratic institutions are quickly restored and we can all move forward together."

Meanwhile, the Assembly will sit again on Wednesday in an attempt to elect a new Speaker. The Assembly recall was postponed last week following the death of Lord Trimble.

It has not been sitting full time because the DUP has so far refused to vote for a Speaker or re-enter power sharing in protest over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

A Speaker can only be elected with support from a majority of unionist and nationalist members

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said his party would not be supporting the election of a new Speaker.


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