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Leading figures across the political divide pay tribute to Lord Trimble

Mr Trimble died on Monday at the age of 77.

25 July 2022

UUP leader Doug Beattie has led tributes to Lord Trimble, saying his death would cause “deep sadness” throughout Northern Ireland and much further afield.

One of the principal architects of the Belfast Agreement ending decades of conflict in Northern Ireland, Mr Trimble died on Monday at the age of 77.

Mr Beattie described the former First Minister as “a man of courage and vision”.

Brexit
UUP leader Doug Beattie (Brian Lawless/PA)

He said: “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.

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

“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.”

On behalf of the Ulster Unionist Party, he extended his deepest sympathies to Lady Trimble and their children, Richard, Victoria, Sarah and Nicholas.

Sunday Morning
Former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis (Yui Mok/PA)

Former Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis described Mr Trimble’s passing as “incredibly sad”.

Mr Lewis, who resigned as secretary earlier this month, tweeted: “A brilliant statesman and dedicated public servant, his legacy as an architect of the Good Friday Agreement will live on forever.

“The people of the UK owe him an immense debt of gratitude for all he achieved for our Union.”

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said Mr Trimble had left an “indelible mark on our shared island’s story” and that without him there would not have been a Good Friday Agreement.

The Foyle MP said: “Over the course of his political career but particularly in difficult years of the Good Friday Agreement negotiations he demonstrated immense courage and took political risks that sustained the life of our fledgling peace process.

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

“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.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: “Very sad news. David Trimble was a towering figure of Northern Ireland and British politics as one of the key authors of the Good Friday Agreement, the first First Minister and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. My thoughts are with Lady Trimble and their family.”

TUV leader Jim Allister said: he was “greatly saddened” to learn of his passing and expressed his sincere condolences to his family.

He said: “Though politically we fundamentally disagreed over the Belfast Agreement, latterly as joint applicants in the Judicial Review challenge to the protocol we shared a common determination to rid Northern Ireland of this iniquitous assault on our constitutional position.

“David had a very clear and correct view of the dangers and unacceptability of the protocol.”

He added that he had known David and Daphne Trimble since his university days when David was one of his lecturers and Daphne a fellow student in his law year.

“As a couple throughout their married life Daphne gave exemplary support to David and in his declining health was a tower of strength to him. So, in losing David, Daphne has suffered a great loss and Northern Ireland has lost a foremost thinker within unionism,” he said.

Ireland’s further education minister Simon Harris extended his “deepest sympathy” to Lord Trimble’s family.

In a post on Twitter Mr Harris said: “Sending deepest sympathy to the family & friends of David Trimble.

“Sad to hear of his passing tonight. This beautiful tribute a few weeks ago from @QUBelfast is worth a look at in his memory.

“He played a very important role in building peace on our island. May he rest in peace.”

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