A ‘giant’ of politics: Tributes pour in for Lord Trimble

The Prime Minister has hailed Lord Trimble as a political “giant” following his death at the age of 77.

oris Johnson said he is “deeply saddened” at the loss of a “champion of democracy”.

“He was a giant of British and international politics and will be long remembered for his intellect, personal bravery and fierce determination to change politics for the better,” he tweeted. 

“A winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and a leading architect of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, he championed democracy over violence and played a huge role in setting Northern Ireland on the path to peace.

“My thoughts are with David’s wife Daphne and their children at this difficult time. They should know that David’s legacy and achievements will never be forgotten by the people of the United Kingdom.”

Mr Johnson’s potential successors have also paid tribute to Lord Trimble during the Tory leadership debate. 

Liz Truss told the BBC News special programme: “I want to pay tribute to David Trimble, who was a political giant and who helped secure peace in Northern Ireland.”

Meanwhile her rival Rishi Sunak said Lord Trimble was a “giant of Unionism”. 

“He helped bring peace to Northern Ireland as an architect of the Good Friday Agreement and he was a deserved winner of the Nobel Peace Prize,” he added. 

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern described David Trimble as “courageous”, adding he had great admiration for him.

Speaking on Irish broadcaster RTE Mr Ahern said: “He was a courageous and I had many a row with him and many arguments and in more recent years we’ve had good laughs about those debates. But he was tough.”

“As a good negotiator I think when he made the deal, when he settled something, he stuck by it.

“Subsequently he paid the price. And in spite of the horrendous problems that he was under from within his own party and from outside the wider Unionist group, in that last week of the Good Friday agreement he stuck by it.

“He got a lot of criticism from the wider unionist family but you know, I have great admiration for him.”

Mr Ahern recalled his first visit to the unionist headquarters with Mr Trimble on Glengall Street in Belfast in 1995: “That day, we said, listen, should we give this a try? If it works, it’s good. If it doesn’t, you know, let’s not fall out too much.

“I never fell out with him: fought with him, rowed with him and argued with him. But I think we had the one determination: that we would end violence in Northern Ireland.”

It comes after the John & Pat Hume Foundation praised Lord Trimble’s courageous leadership.  

The former UUP leader received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998 alongside John Hume, former leader of the SDLP, for their contribution to politics here. 

“David Trimble demonstrated genuine and courageous leadership during the negotiations that led to the Good Friday Agreement 24 years ago,” Dr Sean Farren from the foundation said. 

“The defining image of the Referendum campaign that followed was the picture of David Trimble, Bono and John Hume together on the stage at the YES gig in the Waterfront Hall, this symbolised hope for the future and a new beginning for everyone.

“His leadership was fully acknowledged by the award of the Nobel Peace Prize along with John Hume in 1998. “

Dr Farren said he was “privileged” to serve in the 1999-2002 Executive led by David and Seamus Mallon.

“David’s courage was once again manifest in his decision to allow that Executive to be formed notwithstanding opposition from some quarters,” he added. 

“Along with Seamus Mallon, David Trimble was determined that we should demonstrate that political reconciliation could be achieved and that by working together make Northern Ireland and Ireland as a whole a better place for all.

“My thoughts are with his wife Daphne, his son Nicholas and the wider family. May he rest in peace.”

Former prime minister Sir John Major said: “When David Trimble became leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, he made a critical contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process.

“He shed his former opposition to the process, and became an innovative advocate for a peaceful settlement.

“This was a brave and principled change of policy, and critical to the creation of peace in Northern Ireland.

“He thoroughly merits an honourable place amongst peacemakers.”

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