Good Friday Agreement architect David Trimble dies at 77

David Trimble, Member of the House of Lords

© APA | David Trimble, Member of the House of Lords

# 26 July 2022 00:34 (UTC +04:00)

David Trimble, the Northern Irish leader who steered the region's Protestant majority into an historic peace deal with their Catholic rivals that earned him a Nobel Peace Prize, has died aged 77, his family said on Monday, APA reports citing Reuters.

Trimble, who became Northern Irish first minister in the power-sharing government that emerged from the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, played a key role in the accord that mostly ended three decades of bloodshed in the region.

"It is with great sadness that the family of Lord Trimble announce that he passed away peacefully earlier today following a short illness," Trimble's family said in a statement published by his Ulster Unionist Party (UUP).

Trimble and John Hume, former leader of the Catholic Social Democratic and Labour Party, jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998 for their roles in helping end the sectarian violence that claimed some 3,600 lives.

Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin said Trimble's reference to the "politics of the possible" in his Nobel acceptance speech summed up his achievements over many decades, often in challenging circumstances.

"All of us in politics at the time witnessed his crucial and courageous role in the negotiations leading to the Good Friday Agreement and his leadership in building support in his party and his community," Martin said in a statement.

A trained barrister who preferred academia to the courtroom, Trimble's first foray into Northern Irish politics came in 1974 as a hardline politician who helped bring down early attempts at power-sharing in a forerunner agreement to the 1998 accord.

He joined the mainstream UUP in the late 1970s and would eventually drag his unwilling party into the talks which led to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Many Protestants regarded him as a traitor for doing so.

Ex-Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, whose party acted as the political wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), blamed for half of the conflict's deaths, said Trimble's contribution to almost 25 years of relative peace "cannot be underestimated".

"David faced huge challenges when he led the Ulster Unionist Party in the Good Friday Agreement negotiations and persuaded his party to sign on for it. It is to his credit that he supported that Agreement. I thank him for that," Adams said in a statement.

UUP leader Doug Beattie described his predecessor as "a man of courage and vision". British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called him "a giant of British and international politics".

"He will be long remembered for his intellect, personal bravery and fierce determination to change politics for the better," Johnson said on Twitter.