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David Trimble walked the hard yards for peace

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David Trimble with his wife Daphne

David Trimble with his wife Daphne

UK

David Trimble with his wife Daphne

Mourners from across the political spectrum gathered at a small church in Lisburn yesterday to pay tribute to David Trimble, a man recognised as having sacrificed his political career for peace.

The service was held at Harmony Hill Church, fitting for a man who walked the hard yards to bring an end to violence.

Lord Trimble was a regular worshipper at the church, and his funeral service was modest and understated, tailored to a political leader who shunned pomp and circumstance.

His children read Bible verses reflecting the themes of peace and understanding.

The congregation was told that Lord Trimble was a man who rose to “impossible challenges with considerable strength of character and complete integrity”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Taoiseach Micheal Martin were among those whose attendance at the service conveyed the respect the ex-UUP leader was held in.

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern cut short a holiday to attend. The two men were unlikely friends but formed a close friendship during tough peace negotiations.

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We live in challenging times, with the Northern Ireland Protocol and the out-workings of Brexit causing significant political instability.

Recognising this at the service, the Rev Charles McMullen said the Good Friday Agreement had succeeded “in placing the principle of consent at the centre of our politics and ultimately removing the gun”, but he added that “we are all, to a greater or lesser extent, recovering sectarians”.

He also appealed to mourners to use their influence “in a fitting tribute to one of the greats and redouble [your] efforts on this home of ours”.

What a fitting legacy it would be if the death of Lord Trimble, like the death of John Hume before him, becomes a reminder of those who managed the impossible, who defied the odds and created stability at a time of chaos. 

Lord Trimble was an outspoken opponent of the Northern Ireland Protocol but, political until the end, the message from his well-lived life is that talking and negotiating is the better way, even if that means having uncomfortable conversations with political rivals.

He will be remembered as an intellectual, a political powerhouse and a defender of all he believed in.

William David Trimble, now at his rest, leaves behind a legacy of peace — a legacy that his wife Daphne and children Richard, Nicholas, Victoria and Sarah can be incredibly proud of.


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