David Trimble, passed away following an illness on 25 July 2022. He was the first First Minister of Northern Ireland from 1998 to 2002, and the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party from 1995 to 2005. He was also a Member of the Westminster Parliament for Upper Bann from 1990 to 2005 and a member of the Stormont Assembly (MLA) for Upper Bann from 1998 to 2007. The 77-year-old former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party was an architect of the Good Friday Agreement. Trimble was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with John Hume the late SDLP leader for their peace efforts. On losing his seat to the DUP in 2005 he spent his remaining years in the House of Lords as Baron Trimble.
Stormont Recall Postponed
A planned recall sitting of the troubled Stormont Assembly for today July 26th has been postponed as a mark of respect. The postponement was announced by outgoing Stormont speaker Alex Maskey who said he would be making arrangements to allow MLA’s to formally offer their condolences and pay tributes. “I will announce further details when arrangements have been confirmed,” he added.
Tributes Pour In
Former US President Bill Clinton led the tributes to David Trimble, stating that his “lifetime of service” helped bring peace to Northern Ireland… “His legacy will endure in all who are living better lives because of him today.”
Bertie Ahern former Taoiseach told RTE’s Morning programme that he did not believe the Good Friday Agreement would have been achievable without Trimble’s efforts. Ahern went on saying he “never blinked” and that he “stood up to the wider Unionist community” during the peace process.
Alex Kane, former director of UUP communications during the peace talks said that Trimble was branded as a “traitor” by some Unionists. “In fact, in some cases, I think they viewed him as even a greater threat to them than the presence of Sinn Féin in the Assembly.” But something drove him on, something made him want to continue” he told RTE’s Morning Ireland.
DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson the current DUP leader who quit the Ulster Unionist Party in 2003 and defected to the DUP after disagreeing with Tremble over the Good Friday Agreement and IRA decommissioning told the BBC “There is no doubt that David was a titan of unionism.”
President Michael D Higgins praised Trimble’s “life of public service”, while the outgoing UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Trimble’s achievements would never be forgotten.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said, “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 for the Agreement,”
Tony Blair, former UK Prime Minister who was also involved in the intensive Good Friday negotiations paid tribute saying his contribution was “immense, unforgettable and frankly irreplaceable”.
Former Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, a long time bitter political adversary of Tremble thanked him for helping to get the Good Friday Agreement over the line in 1998.
Current UUP leader Doug Beattie said Tremble 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,”
David Trembles Long Journey
Whatever is said about David Tremble, it must be acknowledged that he made a long and painful journey from his traditional “No Surrender” Unionist stance to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and taking the role of first First Minister of Northern Ireland from 1998 to 2002 in the Stormont Assembly.