David Trimble: who is former Northern Ireland First Minister and Nobel Peace prize winner?

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David Trimble, who won a Nobel Peace prize for his work on the Good Friday Agreement, has died at the age of 77

David Trimble, former Northern Ireland First Minister and architect of the Good Friday Agreement, has died at the age of 77.

The Ulster Unionist Party, which Lord Trimble led from1995 until 2005, confirmed the death of their former leader in a statement.

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The politican has been instrumental in the creation of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, alongside SDLP leader John Hume.

Who was David Trimble?

Lord Trimble was a politican notable for his work in Northern Irish politics during the 1990s and early 2000s.

He began his career in politics after distinguishing himself as a law academic at Queen’s University in Belfast.

Lord Trimble joined the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) in 1978 and left his full-time role at the university to run as an MP for the party in 1990.

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David Trimble has died at the age of 77, the Ulster Unionist Party has confirmed. (Credit: Getty Images)David Trimble has died at the age of 77, the Ulster Unionist Party has confirmed. (Credit: Getty Images)
David Trimble has died at the age of 77, the Ulster Unionist Party has confirmed. (Credit: Getty Images) | Getty Images

The university professor was heavily impacted by the death of his university and UUP colleague, Edgar Graham, at the hands of the IRA (Irish Republican Army), having identified the body after hearing the gunshots.

In 1995, he unexpectedly won the leadership contest for the Ulster Unionist Party, and became the first leader of the party to meet with the Irish Premier in Dublin in almost 30 years. He also became the first ever unionist leader to meet and negotiate with Sinn Fein in 1997.

It was in these negotiations that Lord Trimble began to co-construct the Good Friday Agreement.

On 10 April 1998, this was signed by all parties, marking an end to the violence on the street of Northern Ireland that the Trouble had caused since the late 1960s.

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Lord Trimble won a Nobel Peace Prize alongside SDLP leader John Hume in 1998 for their joint work on the Good Friday Agreement.

In a first for the country, Lord Trimble was elected as First Minister of Northern Ireland, with SDLP deputy leader Seamus Mallon chosen as deputy Furst Minister.

He eventually resigned as leader in December 2003, and resigned from the party after losing his seat in the 2005 Westminster election.

He later joined the House of Lords as a member of the Conservative Party.

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How did David Trimble die?

His former party, UUP, confirmed the death of their once-leader in a statement, revealing that he had been suffering from a “short illness”.

He passed away on Monday 25 July.

The statement read: “It is with great sadness that the family of Lord Trimble announce that he passed away peacefully earlier today following a short illness.”

Tributes has poured in from the political word for the former First Minister.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: “Very sad news. David Trimble was a towering figure of Northern Ireland and British politics as one of the key authors of the Good Friday Agreement, the first First Minister and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. My thoughts are with Lady Trimble and their family.”

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Former Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said: “Incredibly sad news that David Trimble has died. A brilliant statesman and dedicated public servant, his legacy as an architect of the Good Friday Agreement will live on forever.

“The people of the UK owe him an immense debt of gratitude for all he achieved for our Union.”

Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O’Neill said she learned of the death of Lord Trimble with “deep regret”, adding that he made a “significant contribution” towards peace in Northern Ireland.

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