LONDON – Former Northern Ireland prime minister David Trimble, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending decades of violence in Northern Ireland, has died. I was 77 years old.
The party said in a statement on behalf of the Trimble family that the unionist politician died on Monday “after a short illness”.
Trimble, who led the UUP from 1995 to 2005, was a key architect of the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, which ended three decades of violent conflict in Northern Ireland known as the Troubles.
Keir Starmer, leader of Britain’s opposition Labor Party, tweeted on Monday that Trimble was a “powerful figure for Northern Ireland and British politics”.
The UUP, the largest Protestant unionist party in Northern Ireland, agreed to the Good Friday peace agreement, led by Trimble.
He was the first party leader in 30 years to meet the Irish Prime Minister in Dublin. In 1997, Trimble became the first unionist leader to negotiate with the Irish republican party Sinn Féin.
Trimble shared the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize for his work with John Hume, a Catholic moderate leader, Social Democrat and Labor leader.
He became First Minister in Northern Ireland’s first devolution government the same year, with Seamus Mallon of the SDLP as Deputy First Minister.
But both the UUP and the SDLP soon found themselves overtaken by more hard-line parties – the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin.
Trimble struggled to hold his party together as the power-sharing government was rocked by differences over the disarmament of the IRA and other paramilitary groups. With senior colleagues defecting to the DUP, Trimble lost his seat in the British Parliament in 2005 and resigned as party leader shortly afterwards. The following year, he was appointed to the upper house of parliament, the House of Lords.
Northern Ireland’s power-sharing has since gone through many crises – but the peace settlement has largely held.
“The Good Friday Agreement is something everyone in Northern Ireland can agree on,” Trimble said earlier this year. “It doesn’t mean they agree with everything. There are points that some people consider wrong, but the main thing is that it was agreed.
Trimble is survived by his wife Daphne and children Richard, Victoria, Nicholas and Sarah.
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