Without David Trimble, there would’ve been no Good Friday Agreement - Derry MP

Derry’s MP Colum Eastwood said David Trimble has left an ‘indeible mark on our shared island’s history’ after the Nobel Peace Laureate passed away yesterday aged 77.

A former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party and later Member of the House of Lords, David Trimble secured his place in Irish history when in a historic move along with John Hume and others he brought about the Good Friday Agreement.

Social Democratic and Labour Party Leader Colum Eastwood said that over the course of his political career, but particularly in difficult years of the Good Friday Agreement negotiations, David Trimble had demonstrated immense courage and took political risks “that sustained the life of our fledgling peace process”.

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“He doesn’t often enough get credit for it but without David Trimble’s fortitude, there would simply have been no agreement,” Mr Eastwood said.

PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/04/98 Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble pictured with his copy of the Agreement at a press conference in the Europa Hotel in Belfast where he won the big vote by his party on weather to endorse the Mitchell Agreement or not.

“The image of David and Seamus Mallon walking through Poyntzpass together in 1998 to comfort the families of Damien Trainor and Philip Allen is an enduring icon of the peace process that inspired a whole generation of people who wanted, and needed, to believe that our shared future could be different from our divided past. It is my enduring memory of his commitment to reconciliation.

“My thoughts and prayers are with Daphne, Richard, Victoria, Nicholas and Sarah at this difficult time. I hope they are comforted by the immense legacy that David left to the people of Northern Ireland.”

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The current leader of the UUP Doug Beattie MLA said the news of Mr Trimble’s death would “cause deep sadness throughout Northern Ireland and much further afield”.

“David Trimble was a man of courage and vision. He chose to grasp the opportunity for peace when it presented itself and sought to end the decades of violence that blighted his beloved Northern Ireland.

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PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/05/98 Prime Minister Tony Blair chats to Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble and SDLP leader John Hume after a working breakfast at the Dunadry hotel on the outskirts of Belfast this morning as the trio prepared for a final push for a YES vote in tomorrow's referendum.

“He will forever be associated with the leadership he demonstrated in the negotiations that led up to the 1998 Belfast Agreement.

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“The bravery and courage he demonstrated whilst battling his recent illness was typical of the qualities he showed in his political career, at Stormont and at Westminster.

“He will be remembered as a First Minister, as a Peer of the Realm and as a Nobel Prize Winner. He will also be remembered as a great Unionist.

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“On behalf of the Ulster Unionist Party, and with a very heavy heart, I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to his wife Lady Trimble and his children, Richard, Victoria, Sarah and Nicholas.”

Pacemaker Press 27/06/22 The Rt. Hon. Lord David Trimble with his wife Daphne during an unveiling his portrait by Colin Davidson at Queen's Management School, Riddel Hall in Belfast this evening. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
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The Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey meanwhile said: “I was very sorry to hear of the death of Lord Trimble. David and I worked together through many challenging times, the high point being the Good Friday Agreement. We were colleagues in the first Assembly in 1998 in what was a very different Assembly Chamber from today.

“He undoubtedly took difficult decisions in difficult circumstances throughout this period and played a huge part in the peace process. However, I am particularly mindful of his wife Daphne and his family who are mourning the loss of a husband and father.”

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Mr Maskey said today’s recall of the NI Assembly would be deferred as a mark of respect.

“I will also be making provision for Assembly Members to formally offer their condolences and pay tribute to Lord Trimble as a former First Minister; I will announce further details when arrangements have been confirmed.”

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DUP Leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson also paid tribute saying: “He made a huge contribution to Northern Ireland, and to political life in the United Kingdom.

“Throughout some of the most difficult years of the Troubles, David was a committed and passionate advocate for the Union, at a time when doing so placed a considerable threat to his safety. Whilst our political paths parted within the Ulster Unionist Party, there can be no doubting his bravery and determination in leadership at that time. He was a committed and passionate unionist who always wanted the best for Northern Ireland.

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“Right until recent days David continued to use his political skill and intellect, most recently in support of the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union and in opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol. As a Nobel laureate, his words carried significant weight and he helped raise awareness of the threat the protocol posed to Northern Ireland, particularly amongst the wider UK audience.

“He leaves a huge and lasting legacy to Northern Ireland. He can undoubtedly be said to have shaped history in our country.”Tributes have come in from across these isles and beyond since the news of Mr Trimble’s passing was confirmed last night.”

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In a statement, An Taoiseach Micheál Martin said Mr Trimble played a key role as leader of the UUP, and that his was a long and distinguished career in Unionist politics and in the politics of Northern Ireland.

“All of us in politics at the time witnessed his crucial and courageous role in the negotiations leading to the Good Friday Agreement and his leadership in building support in his party and his community for the Agreement.

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“Fittingly, his contribution was recognised internationally and most notably by the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to himself and John Hume ‘for their joint efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland’.

“In his speech accepting the Nobel Prize, Trimble spoke about the ‘politicians of the possible’, a phrase which I think sums up the David Trimble we all knew, and it speaks to his achievements over many decades, often in challenging circumstances.

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“The work of reconciliation begun in the Good Friday Agreement continues, and as new generations pick up the mantle of this work, it is fitting that we pay tribute to Lord Trimble for his central contribution in setting us on the path to peace and reconciliation.”

President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins said: “I wish to express my deep sadness at hearing of the news of the passing of David Trimble, former First Minister of Northern Ireland and former Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party. Sabina joins me in expressing our profound sympathy to Mrs. Daphne Trimble and to all of David’s family, friends and colleagues.

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“Lord David Trimble will be remembered for a life of public service, and of course for his most significant contribution to the work for peace on our island.

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize, together with John Hume, following the signing of the Good Friday Agreement almost 25 years ago, was part of the recognition by so many of their work for peace.

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“David Trimble’s dedication and courage, often during the most challenging times, has earned him a distinguished and deserved place in our history books. His work leaves a true legacy on the necessity and value of peace on our shared island for future generations.”