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David Trimble: Book of condolence opened at Stormont for public to pay tribute to former First Minister

A book of condolence to Lord Trimble has been opened at Stormont for the public to sign following the former First Minister’s death.

The Assembly said the book will be available to sign in the Great Hall of Parliament Buildings in east Belfast and will be open from 10am to 4pm for the rest of this week.

It comes after politicians gathered in the building on Tuesday for a special sitting to pay tribute to one of the architects of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner and former leader of the UUP died last week at the age of 77 following an illness.

He was buried on Monday after a funeral service that was attended by dignitaries including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Irish President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Micheal Martin.

Despite the impasse at Stormont over the DUP’s boycott of the institutions, party whips agreed to hold a special gathering in the chamber of Parliament Buildings on Tuesday to allow for tributes to be paid to Lord Trimble.

Current UUP leader Doug Beattie said it could be difficult for the current generation of MLAs to fully understand the impact the unionist statesman had on Northern Ireland politics.

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Mr Beattie said that before 1998 unionists and nationalists would not be seen in the same room together, “never mind share a handshake or form a government with joint responsibilities”.

He contrasted that to scenes at Monday’s funeral where political leaders from across the divide came together.

“At David’s humble and dignified funeral, handshakes and pats on the shoulder were offered freely from every political corner with warm words of condolence – that’s progress,” he said.

Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O’Neill said it would be a “travesty” if the institutions were not restored before the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement next year.

“History will be kind to David Trimble for the huge part he played, but it will be unforgiving to those of you who obstruct progress or refuse to show leadership,” she said.

“What was achieved by David Trimble together with the leaders of nationalism and republicanism, the Irish and British Governments, the United States and the EU cannot be underestimated. It can never be taken for granted.

“He and all of them leave a legacy for which any politician would be rightly proud.

“The Good Friday Agreement is a gift to today’s generation and its promise must be fully realised.

“I stand here today as a leader of the Good Friday Agreement generation, and I want to lead and work with you all and those whom you represent.

“Anyone who sets out to undermine this work and turns this place upside down should not be in politics.”

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