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Former first minister of Northern Ireland David Trimble dies aged 77
25 July 2022, 19:46 | Updated: 25 July 2022, 20:51
Former First Minister of Northern Ireland and and co-architect of the Good Friday Agreement David Trimble has died aged 77.
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His family said in a statement: "It is with great sadness that the family of Lord Trimble announce that he passed away peacefully earlier today following a short illness."
The politician led the Ulster Unionist Party between 1995 and 2005, and played a key part in the negotiation of the Good Friday Agreement which ended the worst of the Northern Ireland Troubles.
Lord Trimble and John Hume jointly won the 1998 Nobel Prize for Peace for their work.
The Co Down man distinguished himself in an academic career in the law faculty at the Queen's University Belfast before moving into politics.
He initially became involved in the unionist offshoot organisation Vanguard in the early 1970s and while he was best known for his involvement with the Belfast Agreement, in his younger days he had opposed an earlier attempt, the Sunningdale Agreement.
He went on to join the then dominant Ulster Unionist Party in 1978.
It was at the university in 1983 that he heard the IRA's gunshots which killed his fellow law professor and UUP colleague Edgar Graham and later identified the body.
Sad news to hear that Lord (David) Trimble has passed away.— Guy Spence (@GuySpence) July 25, 2022
My heartfelt condolences go out to Daphne and his children.
A political giant, who took the risk in creating hope giving new opportunities for future generations like mine in Northern Ireland. Thank you!#LordTrimble pic.twitter.com/7aBHcWTl0j
He left academia for politics full time when he was elected as MP for Upper Bann following a by election in 1990 after the death of the incumbent Harold McCusker.
Lord Trimble rose to prominence partly due to the Drumcree dispute as nationalist residents opposed the procession of an orange parade along the Garvaghy Road.
He led the parade along the road in 1995, famously joining hands with Democratic Unionist leader Ian Paisley.
Brandon Lewis, who resigned as Northern Ireland secretary earlier this month, tweeted: "Incredibly sad news that David Trimble has died.
"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."
UUP leader Doug Beattie paid tribute to Lord Trimble saying his death would cause "deep sadness" throughout Northern Ireland and much further afield.
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Mr Beattie said: "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.
"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, 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."
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: "I am greatly saddened to learn of the passing of Lord David Trimble and wish to express to Lady Trimble and the family sincere condolences.
"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.
"I have known David and Daphne Trimble since my university days when David was one of my lecturers and Daphne was a fellow student in my 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."