Former US President Bill Clinton has paid tribute to former Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize laureate David Trumbull, saying his lifetime of service helped bring peace to Northern Ireland.
Mr Trumbull (77) – a native of Bangor, Co Down – began his career teaching law at Queen’s University in Belfast in the 1970s. He was leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) from 1995 to 2005.
Mr Trimble played a central role in negotiating the Belfast Agreement and was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with former SDLP leader John Hume for his achievements in the landmark peace agreement.
A statement released by Mr Trumbull’s family on Monday evening said: “It is with great sadness that the family of Lord Trumbull announce that he passed away peacefully earlier today after a short illness.” .
In a statement, Mr Clinton said: “Hillary and I are deeply saddened by the passing of Lord David Trumbull, a leader of courage, vision and principle whose lifelong service helped bring peace to Northern Ireland.
Clinton’s statement said that “from time to time during the negotiations leading up to the Good Friday Agreement, she made difficult choices against those politically expedient because she believed that future generations would experience violence and hatred.” They deserve to grow up free from it.”
“His faith in the democratic process allowed him to confront strong opposition in his community, convince them of the virtues of compromise, and share power with his former opponents. His legacy lives on in all of them. Gay who are living a better life today because of him.
“Hillary and I send our thoughts and prayers to his wife, Daphne, his entire family and all those who loved him and were touched by his service,” the statement said.
Former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, once a bitter political opponent of the unionist leader, thanked him for helping to secure the Belfast Agreement in 1998.
“David faced enormous challenges when he led the Ulster Unionist Party in negotiating the Good Friday Agreement and convinced his party to sign it. It is to his credit that he supported the agreement. I thank him for that.
I met David several times in the years immediately following the agreement. Our communication wasn’t always easy, but we made progress. We often met on our own and I knew him well. Although we had fundamentally different political views on the way forward, I believe he was committed to making the peace process work,” Mr Adams said.
“David’s contribution to the Good Friday Agreement and the quarter century of relative peace that followed cannot be understated.”
President Michael D. Higgins also paid tribute to Mr Trumbull, saying he would be remembered for “the most important contribution to working for peace on our island”.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin said he was “deeply saddened” by the death of Mr Trimble, who he described as “someone who played an important and courageous role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland. My sympathies and condolences. From all his family, friends and colleagues.”
DUP leader Geoffrey Donaldson described Mr Trumbull as a “titan of unionism”. Mr Donaldson left the Ulster Unionist Party in 2003 and defected to the DUP after falling out with his then party leader over the Belfast Agreement and the disbandment of the IRA.
But he told the BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme: “There is no doubt that David was a titan of unionism.
“He was someone who believed passionately in the Union, and I have to say that despite our differences in later years when I was in the Ulster Unionist Party, he was someone I got on very well with. “What?”
On Monday evening, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Mr Trumbull’s achievements would never be forgotten. “He was a giant of British and international politics and will be remembered for his intelligence, personal bravery and fierce commitment to improving politics,” he said.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who were both involved in the intensive negotiations of the Belfast Agreement, also paid tribute.
Mr Blair said Mr Trumbull’s contribution was “immense, unforgettable and clearly irreplaceable”, while Mr Ahern described him as a “courageous” leader.
Michelle O’Neill, leader of Sinn Féin in the North, said: “David Trimble’s vital contribution to the peace process and his courage in helping to achieve the Good Friday Agreement has left a legacy of a quarter of a century on which he and His family can be rightly proud
SDLP leader Colm Eastwood said Mr Trumbull had left “an indelible mark on the story of our shared island”.
Current UUP leader Doug Beattie described the former prime minister as “a man of courage and vision”.
“He chose to seize the opportunity for peace when it presented itself and seek to end the decades of violence that have blighted his beloved Northern Ireland,” he said. said – PA