QUB colleagues place a tribute to Lord Trimble on the lecture hall door

A tribute to Lord Trimble was hung on the door of the lecture hall at Queen’s University Belfast, where he was honorary professor and alumnus.

Former colleagues at the university, where the law graduate was part of academic life, expressed their regret at the death of the Nobel laureate.

Lord Paul Bue, Emeritus Professor of Irish History at QUB, called him “a giant of Irish and international politics”.

A former adviser to Lord Trimble during his tenure as leader of the UUP and a colleague during his tenure at Queen’s, recalled his legal prowess.

“Lord Trimble was a giant in Irish and international politics. But he was also an employee of Queen’s University,” he said.

“Proud of his higher education and later role in the academic staff, the keen legal mind he developed at university was the key to his intellectual confidence and underpinned his confident negotiation of the Good Friday Agreement.”

A statement posted on the university’s website mentions how a former law student (from 1964 to 1968) was awarded the McCain Medal for Jurisprudence and received a Bachelor of Laws degree with honors.

He joined the faculty as a lecturer after qualifying as a barrister in 1969, then became assistant dean of law (1973), senior lecturer (1977) and finally chair of commercial and property law (1981-1989).

Lord Trimble was elected MP for the Upper Bann for five years after leaving the university in 1990.

He then led the party in peace talks chaired by Senator George Mitchell and co-sponsored the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, “which he has always described as the most significant achievement of his life,” the statement said.

“Under the agreement, he was elected first minister in July 1998,” the statement said.

“His central role in the Northern Ireland peace process was recognized when, in 1998, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with John Hume, leader of the Social Democratic and Labor Party.

“The following year he was awarded the Legion of Honor by the French government.

“He received an honorary doctorate from Queen’s University in 1999, along with then Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon. In 2006 he was appointed to the House of Lords by Baron Trimble of Lisnagarvey in County Antrim.

“Lord Trimble’s connections with Queen’s University continued throughout his life. In 2018, he participated in the events marking the 20th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement and the Good Friday Agreement, organized by Queen’s, and in April 2022 he was appointed an honorary professor of the university.”

A portrait of Lord Trimble by renowned local artist Colin Davidson was unveiled last month after it was commissioned by the university.

“The portrait will hang in the Great Hall of the Royal Palace,” the statement said.

“The university alsohosted the annual Lord Trimble Lecture with Lord Paul Bue, Professor Emeritus of Irish History, delivering the inaugural presentation.”

Professor Ian Greer, President and Vice-Chancellor of King’s College, paid tribute to Lord Trimble.

“I first met Lord Trimble at the 20th Anniversary Belfast/Good Friday events hosted by Queen’s in 2018 and over the past year I have had the privilege of getting to know David and Lady Daphne,” he said.

“David graciously agreed to accept an appointment as professor emeritus in April and we were very pleased when he also agreed to allow us to commission his portrait to be permanently displayed in the Great Hall.

“David Trimble has had an incredible impact, making significant contributions as an international statesman and peace activist.”

Professor Greer said that everyone at Queen’s University was “very proud” to celebrate Lord Trimble as a leading member of the university community.

“Lord David Trimble’s annual lecture at the university ensures that his contributions to the Queen and to local, national and international politics will never be forgotten,” he added.

“His strong legacy is the peace our students enjoy today, many of whom were born after the signing of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

“He will be greatly missed. I want to express my sincere condolences to David’s family, especially his wife Daphne and their children Victoria, Sarah, Nicholas and Richard.”