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World Clinton tribute to 'leader of courage' David Trimble

10:43  26 july  2022
10:43  26 july  2022 Source:   bbc.com

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Former US President Bill Clinton has paid tribute to former Northern Ireland first minister Lord Trimble, calling him a "leader of courage and vision".

Lord Trimble, who died on Monday aged 77, led the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) between 1995 and 2005.

He was instrumental in the negotiation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement - the peace deal which ended the worst of Northern Ireland's Troubles.

Lord Trimble won the Nobel Peace Prize, along with SDLP leader John Hume.

Since 2006, he sat in the House of Lords.

He was the first person to serve in the role of first minister in the new Northern Ireland Executive established as part of the Good Friday Agreement.

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In a statement, President Clinton said he and his wife were "deeply saddened" by Lord Trimble's death, saying his "lifetime of service helped bring peace to Northern Ireland".

Nobel Peace Prize winner David Trimble died

 Nobel Peace Prize winner David Trimble died The former Northern Irish head of government is one of the architects of the Good Friday Agreement, which ended the decades of civil war in the British province. Now David Trimble died at the age of 77. © Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images Provided by Deutsche Welle David Trimble died after a short illness, his Unionist party Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) said. For years he was the chairman of the conservative Uup, which for the Union advocated with the United Kingdom, belongs to the Northern Ireland.

"Time after time during the negotiations that led to the Good Friday Agreement, he made the hard choices over the politically expedient ones because he believed future generations deserved to grow up free from violence and hatred.

"His faith in the democratic process allowed him to stand up to strong opposition in his own community, persuade them of the merits of compromise, and share power with his former adversaries. His legacy will endure in all who are living better lives because of him today."

  • Obituary: Lord Trimble
  • What is the Good Friday Agreement?
  • Tributes paid to 'man of courage and wisdom' Lord Trimble
  • Lord Trimble: Life in pictures

Current UUP leader Doug Beattie described Lord Trimble as a "political giant".

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"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," Mr Beattie said.

"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."

'Giant of politics'

Prime Minister Boris Johnson described Lord Trimble as "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," Mr Johnson added.

Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Micheál Martin said Lord Trimble played "a crucial and courageous role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland".

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Sinn Féin vice-president Michelle O'Neill said Lord Trimble's courage in helping negotiate the agreement "leaves a legacy a quarter century on for which he and his family should be rightly proud".

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the former first minister "made a huge contribution to Northern Ireland, and to political life in the United Kingdom" and was a "committed and passionate unionist who always wanted the best for Northern Ireland".

Sir Jeffrey's disagreements with Lord Trimble over the Good Friday Agreement led to him quitting the UUP in 2003 and defecting to the DUP.

"Whilst our political paths parted within the Ulster Unionist Party, there can be no doubting his bravery and determination in leadership at that time," Sir Jeffrey added.

Lord Trimble's political journey took him from a young hardliner in the 1970s to a unionist leader who compromised to help deliver an executive and assembly at Stormont where unionism and nationalism shared power.

He received much praise, including the Nobel Peace Prize with Mr Hume, for helping to bring to an end to decades of violence in Northern Ireland.

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Mr Hume died in August 2020, a few months after Seamus Mallon of the SDLP, who served as deputy first minister when Lord Trimble was first minister.

Bertie Ahern said Lord Trimble was a good negotiator © PA Media Bertie Ahern said Lord Trimble was a good negotiator

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who led the Irish government at the Good Friday Agreement negotiations in 1998, said Lord Trimble was courageous and that although they had "many a row, many arguments", they were able to laugh about that in later years.

"As a good negotiator, when he made a deal, when he settled something, he stuck by it," Mr Ahern told broadcaster RTÉ.

"He stuck by it subsequently and he paid a price, he lost his seat in Upper Bann, he got a lot of criticism from his wider unionist family.

"He was a good guy and he stood firmly by what he believed in and I had a long chat with him just a few weeks ago in Queen's [University] and he knew what was coming, he was brave in that, as he was in everything else."

Gerry Adams, the Sinn Féin leader at the time of the Good Friday Agreement, said that although he and Lord Trimble had fundamentally different opinions, he always believed the UUP leader was committed to the peace process.

'Politics at its very best'

"David's contribution to the Good Friday Agreement and to the quarter century of relative peace that followed cannot be underestimated," Mr Adams said.

N.Ireland bids farewell to peacemaker Trimble at Lisburn funeral

  N.Ireland bids farewell to peacemaker Trimble at Lisburn funeral A funeral service for David Trimble, the Nobel peace prize-winning former first minister of Northern Ireland whose statecraft helped end decades of conflict, will be held Monday in his hometown of Lisburn. Tributes have poured in from around the world and across Northern Ireland's political divide for Trimble, who worked tirelessly to bridge its sectarian divides, following his death last Monday aged 77. The service, which will be attended by friends, family and political figures, will be held at Harmony Hill Presbyterian Church in Lisburn, southwest of Belfast, at 1130 GMT.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair - who headed the British side at the time of the 1998 peace talks - said Lord Trimble, "in his support of the peace process, showed politics at its very best".

"When some within his own ranks were opposed to the Belfast/Good Friday agreement, he supported it," he said.

"When we needed his willingness to go the extra mile for peace, he travelled that mile. When there was the prospect of collapse of the process without strong leadership, he provided that leadership.

"His contribution to Northern Ireland and to the United Kingdom was immense, unforgettable and frankly irreplaceable."

His predecessor, 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."

But Lord Trimble also came in for sustained criticism from others within political unionism for signing up to the Good Friday Agreement, particularly the DUP.

He was criticised for agreeing a deal which allowed Sinn Féin - the political wing of the IRA - to enter into the devolved government while the IRA had not decommissioned its weapons.

In 2005, he lost his House of Commons seat to a DUP challenger and went on to enter the House of Lords where he sat as a Conservative Party peer.

Gerry Adams, the Sinn Féin leader at the time of the Good Friday Agreement, said that although he and Lord Trimble had fundamentally different opinions, he always believed the UUP leader was committed to the peace process.

"David's contribution to the Good Friday Agreement and to the quarter century of relative peace that followed cannot be underestimated," Mr Adams said.

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Alliance Party leader Naomi Long said the Good Friday Agreement was Lord Trimble's greatest legacy.

"His contribution to the peace process and the ending of violence in our society helped secure his place in history," she said.

Labour party leader Sir Keir Starmer described him as a "towering figure of Northern Ireland and British politics".

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