Politicians key to various stages of Northern Ireland’s difficult peace process have paid tribute to David Trimble’s efforts to end the bloodshed.
Former Prime Minister Mr Tony: Blair said his contribution was “enormous, unforgettable and frankly irreplaceable”.
Former President of Sinn Fein Gerry Adams thanked him for helping to conclude the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
Sir Tony said:David Trimbleshowed politics at its best with its support for the peace process.
“When some of his own rank and file opposed the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, he supported it. When we needed his willingness to go the extra mile for peace, he went the extra mile. When there was a prospect of the process collapsing without strong leadership, he provided that leadership.
“His contribution to Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom was enormous, unforgettable and frankly irreplaceable.”
Former Conservative Prime Minister Sir John said: “When David Trimble became leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, he made an important contribution to the peace process in Northern Ireland.
“He shed his previous opposition to the process and became an innovative advocate for a peaceful settlement.
“This was a brave and principled change of policy and crucial to bringing peace to Northern Ireland.
“He thoroughly deserves an honorable place among the peacemakers.”
Mr Aher said: “He was a brave man and I had many arguments and arguments with him … and in recent years we had a good laugh about those arguments. But he was tough.
“As a good negotiator, I think that when he made a deal, when he settled something, he stuck to it. Then he paid the price. And despite the dire problems he was under from outside his party and the wider unionist group, he stuck to it in the final week of the Good Friday Agreement.
“He’s had a lot of criticism from the extended union family, but you know, I have a lot of admiration for him.”
Speaking to RTE, Mr Ahern recalled his first visit to union headquarters with Mr Trimble in Glengall Street, Belfast in 1995; “That day we said, listen, let’s try this. If it works, it’s good. If it doesn’t, you know, let’s not go out too much.
“I never argued with him. wrestled with him, rowed and argued with him. But I think we had the sole determination to end the violence in Northern Ireland.”
Mr Adams expressed his “deep regret” at Lord Trimble’s death.
“David faced enormous challenges when he led the Ulster Unionist Party in negotiating the Good Friday Agreement and convinced his party to sign up to it. It is his honor that he supported that Agreement. I thank him for that,” he said.
“In the years immediately following the agreement, I met David many times. Our conversations have not always been easy, but we have made progress. We met on our own quite often and I got to know him quite well. Although we had fundamentally different political views on the way forward, I believe he was committed to making the peace process work.
“David’s contribution to the Good Friday Agreement and the quarter century of relative peace that followed cannot be underestimated.”
Former Northern Ireland Secretary Lord Peter Mandelson said: “David Trimble not only took on the herculean task of negotiating the Good Friday Agreement on behalf of the unions, but also went through all the pain and struggle of bringing it to life.
“All the while he faced endless onslaught from people in his own community, I know because we met many of these audiences together, and in the end he didn’t stay. He was a brave man who earned his place in history.”
Blair and Ahern are among peace process-era leaders to pay tribute to Trimble
SourceBlair and Ahern are among peace process-era leaders to pay tribute to Trimble