David Trimble, the former Northern Ireland prime minister who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work of reconciliation between Protestants and Catholics in the British province, died on Monday at the age of 77, the Unionist party said.
“It is with great sadness that the family of Lord Trimble announce that he passed away earlier today (Monday) after a short illness,” the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) said in a statement.
A jurist by training, Trimble entered politics in the early 1970s in the unionist Vanguard party, which was very close to the paramilitaries.
And 25 years later, this Protestant, together with the late John Hume, shaped the Good Friday Peace Agreement, for which both were rewarded with the Nobel Peace Prize.
“Deeply saddened by the death of David Trimble, who played a crucial and courageous role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland,” Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin tweeted.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the former Northern Irish leader, calling him a “giant in British and international politics.”
“He will be remembered for his intelligence, personal bravery and steadfast determination to change policy for the better,” Johnson added on Twitter.
“David was a great figure, who played a decisive role in achieving the agreement (of Good Friday, ndlr) and in the creation of Northern Ireland today,” wrote the leader of British diplomacy (and candidate for prime minister ) Liz Truss.
– “Courage and vision” –
Trimble led the first power-sharing government between nationalist republicans (mostly Catholic) who advocate the reunification of Ireland, and unionists (mostly Protestant) who advocate permanence in the British crown.
“David Trimble was a man of courage and vision. He made a decision for peace when the opportunity presented itself and sought to end decades of violence that plagued his beloved Northern Ireland,” current UUP leader Doug Beattie said in Twitter.
Trimble joined the UUP in 1978 and took over as head of the party in 1995, five years after his first term as an MP in the British Parliament in London.
In the autumn (boreal) of 1997, after the ceasefire declaration of the Irish Republican Army (IRA, in English), he was the first unionist official to dialogue with the republicans of Sinn Fein, the political arm of the IRA.
In 1998 he won the Nobel Peace Prize alongside former Catholic leader John Hume for “their efforts to find a peaceful solution” to a conflict that left more than 3,500 dead.
Sinn Fein Vice President Michelle O’Neill also sent her condolences to Trimble’s family.
“His very significant contribution to the peace process and his courage in helping bring about the Good Friday Agreement leave a legacy that, a quarter of a century later, he and his family can be proud of,” O’Neill wrote on Twitter. .
A supporter of Brexit, Trimble last year questioned the legality of the Northern Ireland agreement, which governs relations between the British province and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member country.
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Former Northern Ireland Prime Minister David Trimble, architect of the Good Friday Agreement, has died