David Trimble, the former first minister of Northern Ireland and a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, passed away on Monday at the age of 77, his Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) announced.
Who was David Trimble?
Trimble and his Republican counterpart, John Hume, won the prize in 1998 for their roles in brokering a peace agreement that finally put an end to decades of violence in a turbulent UK province. Earlier today, the UUP released a statement saying that Lord Trimble had died away peacefully after a brief illness. His death was mysterious, and no other information was given.
Trimble, who served as party leader for ten years beginning in 1995, has been a member of the House of Lords as a Conservative peer since 2006.
Doug Beattie, the current leader of the UUP, described him as “a political giant, a courageous politician, a loyal unionist, and a friend” on Twitter, and described him as “a man of daring and vision” in a statement.
The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 is still held up as a model of political compromise after it put an end to 30 years of fighting in Northern Ireland that claimed the lives of 3,500 people.
In the long and tense peace talks, Trimble brought his cohort to the table despite opposition from his unionist community, which favours ties between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain.
In 1997, he made history by negotiating with Sinn Fein, the Irish republican party, and becoming the first unionist leader since partition to do so. This was all part of the peace process. After the agreement of 1998, he became the first minister of Northern Ireland, with Seamus Mallon, the deputy leader of the SDLP, serving as his deputy.
British government official and Northern Ireland secretary resignee Brandon Lewis praised him as “a remarkable statesman and committed public servant” when he announced his resignation earlier this month.
The Good Friday Agreement “will long bear his name” as its architect, he tweeted. The British people have a great debt to him for everything he did to strengthen the Union.
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