> Former first minister of Northern Ireland Lord David Trimble has died | UK News

Former first minister of Northern Ireland Lord David Trimble has died | UK News

Lord Trimble, the original first minister of Northern Ireland and co-architect of the Good Friday Agreement, has died, aged 77.

“It is with great sadness that the family of Lord Trimble announce that he passed away peacefully earlier today following a short illness,” a statement read.

His tough stance on disputed Orange Order parades in the 1990s won him the leadership of the Ulster Unionist Party.

But David Trimble was the unionist who dared to compromise and led his party to the negotiating table at Stormont.

Bertie Ahern, former Taoiseach (Irish prime minister), said: “I think history will remember him as a politician who, in a really difficult time, when we were trying to end 30 years of violence, in spite of everything, stood up and put his name to that agreement.

“That allowed us to bring peace to Northern Ireland and allowed us to progress.”

Their contribution to the peace process earned David Trimble and his nationalist counterpart John Hume the 1998 Nobel Prize for Peace.

Read more: Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin says UK does not ‘fully get’ Good Friday Agreement

He was the first person to be elected first minister of Northern Ireland, holding the office from 1998 to 2002.

But the rise of Sinn Fein before the IRA had decommissioned weapons forced him to take another leap of faith.

“We’ve done our bit,” he declared in November 1999, “Mr Adams, it’s over to you. We’ve jumped, you follow.”

US President Bill Clinton (second left) and Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair (right) with Northern Ireland's First Minister David Trimble (left) and Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon on the steps of the Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast.
Lord David Trimble with US president Bill Clinton and prime minister Tony Blair in Belfast in 2000

David Kerr was David Trimble’s press secretary during those tumultuous days in Stormont politics and knew him better than most.

He said: “I do believe history will be kind to David Trimble.

“I think when historians look back objectively with a longer perspective over the timeframe of things that happened before and after the Good Friday Agreement, I think they will understand the pivotal role that he played in transforming politics here.”

He incurred the wrath of anti-agreement Unionists, eventually losing his Upper Bann seat at Westminster to the Democratic Unionist Party.

Elevated to the Lords, David Trimble never expressed regret for compromising, describing the Good Friday Agreement as his greatest achievement.

In a recent interview for Sky News, he said: “That was the first time we had an agreement within the political parties of Northern Ireland which was accepted by all of them.

“It gave a situation where we could proceed in a context where you could have disagreements.”

A lawyer, academic and statesman, David Trimble will be remembered for his ability to see what others couldn’t, the potential for lasting peace.

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