A tribute to Lord Trimble has been posted on the door of a lecture hall at Queen’s University, Belfast where he was an honorary professor and graduate.
Former colleagues at the university where the law alumnus was a part of academic life have expressed sadness following the death of the Nobel Laureate.
Lord Paul Bew, Professor Emeritus of Irish History at QUB, hailed him as a “giant of Irish and international politics”.
The former advisor to Lord Trimble during his tenure as leader of the UUP and a colleague during his time working at Queen's recalled his legal prowess.
“Lord Trimble was a giant of Irish and international politics. But he was also a Queen’s University man,” he said.
“Proud of his undergraduate education and later role on the academic staff, the sharp legal mind he developed at the university was the clue to his intellectual self-confidence and was at the core of his assured handling of the Good Friday Agreement negotiation.”
A statement posted on the university’s website recalls how the former law student (from 1964 to 1968) was awarded the McKane Medal for Jurisprudence and graduated with a first-class honours, LLB.
He joined the faculty as a lecturer after qualifying as a barrister in 1969 and went on to become assistant Dean of Law (1973), Senior Lecturer (1977), and finally Head of the Department of Commercial and Property Law (1981 to 1989).
Lord Trimble was elected MP for Upper Bann within five years of leaving the university in 1990.
He went on to lead the party into the peace talks chaired by Senator George Mitchell and became a co-architect of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, “which he always said was the single most significant achievement of his life,” the statement reads.
“Following the agreement, he was elected as First Minister in July 1998,” it continued.
“His major role in the Northern Ireland peace process was recognised when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, jointly with John Hume, leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, in 1998.
“The following year, he was awarded the Legion d’Honneur by the French Government.
“He received an honorary Doctorate from Queen’s in 1999, with the then Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon. In 2006 he was appointed to the House of Lords as Baron Trimble of Lisnagarvey in the County of Antrim.
“Lord Trimble’s association with Queen’s University continued throughout his life. In 2018, he participated in the events to mark the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement 20th Anniversary, hosted by Queen’s, and was appointed Honorary Professor of the University in April 2022.”
A portrait of Lord Trimble by renowned local artist Colin Davidson was unveiled last month after it was commissioned by the university.
“The portrait will hang in the Great Hall at Queen’s,” the statement reads.
“The University also established the annual Lord Trimble lecture with Queen’s Professor Emeritus of Irish History, Lord Paul Bew, delivering the inaugural presentation.”
Professor Ian Greer, president and vice-chancellor of Queen’s, paid a personal tribute to Lord Trimble.
“I first met Lord Trimble at the 20th anniversary events for the Belfast/Good Friday agreement hosted by Queen’s in 2018 and I had the privilege of getting to know both David and Lady Daphne well over the last year,” he said.
“David kindly agreed to accept an appointment as Honorary Professor in April and we were delighted when he also agreed to allow us to commission a portrait of him to be hung permanently in the Great Hall.
“David Trimble had incredible impact with a substantial contribution as an international statesman and champion of peace.”
Prof Greer said everyone at Queen’s is “very proud” to celebrate Lord Trimble as a leading member of the university community.
“The university’s annual Lord David Trimble lecture will ensure his contribution to Queen’s and local, national and international politics is never forgotten,” he added.
“His strong legacy is the peace enjoyed today by our students, many of whom were born after the signing of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.
“He will be sorely missed. I wish to offer my sincere condolences to David’s family circle, especially to his wife Daphne and their children Victoria, Sarah, Nicholas and Richard.”