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Daphne Trimble and family walking behind the hearse carrying the coffin of David Trimble in Lisburn, Co Antrim today. PA
Lisburn

David Trimble's actions allowed a generation in NI to grow up in 'relative peace', funeral hears

The Taoiseach, the president and the UK prime minister were among those in attendance at the church.

LAST UPDATE | Aug 1st 2022, 3:26 PM

MOURNERS ATTENDING THE the funeral of David Trimble heard the actions of the former Northern Ireland First Minister allowed a generation in NI to grow up in “relative peace”. 

Trimble, who jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize along with late SDLP leader John Hume, died last week following an illness.

The former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party played a key role in forging the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson were among those at Harmony Hill Presbyterian Church in Lisburn, Co Antrim for his funeral this afternoon.  

President Michael D Higgins and former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern were also in attendance at the church. 

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson, Sinn Fein vice-president Michelle O’Neill, former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, former NI first minister Paul Givan and NI Secretary Shailesh Vara were also at the service.

A crowd of roughly 100 people gathered outside the church to hear the service which was relayed on loudspeaker. 

david-trimble-funeral Michael D Higgins, Boris Johnson and Micheál Martin at the funeral of David Trimble today. PA PA

His widow, Daphne Trimble, took her place in the front row of the church as the coffin was carried in by their sons and daughters.

Trimble was First Minister from 1998 to 2002 and leader of the Ulster Unionist Party from 1995 to 2005. Political leaders past and present have paid tribute to the 77-year-old’s contribution to peace in Northern Ireland.

Dean Godson, member of the House of Lords who wrote Trimble’s biography, said he was the “most substantial figure thrown up by unionism” since the foundation of Northern Ireland in 1921.

He said: “In death he is finally being afforded the respect and love from all communities on this island that he deserves, and did not always receive in the height of his powers.” 

david-trimble-funeral Mourners including Daphne Trimble at David Trimble's funeral today. PA PA

Reverend Fiona Forbes told the funeral service this afternoon that the large group of people gathered to pay their respects bears witness to Trimble’s impact on the political landscape and the “legacy he left all of us”. 

“Of course, we come to remember an academic, a party leader, a peacemaker, a Nobel laureate, the first to serve in the role of first minister in the new Northern Ireland Executive established as part of the Good Friday Agreement,” she said. 

“But we also come to remember a husband, father, and grandfather, a brother, brother-in-law and uncle, a colleague, a committed member of this church family, and a friend.”

Trimble’s eldest son Richard thanked the public for their sympathies and kind words following the death of his father. 

david-trimble-funeral Funeral of David Trimble in Lisburn today. PA PA

Rev Dr Charles McMullen told the service that Trimble’s actions allowed a generation of people in Northern Ireland to grow up in “relative peace”. 

He said he hoped the funeral service could be used to inspire redoubled efforts to resolve political differences in NI. 

“Can we use this service today, in a fitting tribute to one of the great, to redouble our efforts on this island home of ours?” he said. 

“With courage, pragmatism and generosity of spirit may our politicians engage wholeheartedly in resolving the outstanding issues surrounding the Northern Ireland Protocol, so that our democratic institutions are quickly restored and we can all move forward together.”

Statements from former US president Bill Clinton and former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern last week stated Trimble was one of the principal architects of the Good Friday Agreement that ended decades of conflict in the region.

Clinton said Trimble’s “lifetime of service” helped bring peace to Northern Ireland and that he had “made the hard choices over the politically expedient ones because he believed future generations deserved to grow up free from violence and hatred”.

“His faith in the democratic process allowed him to stand up to strong opposition in his own community, persuade them of the merits of compromise, and share power with his former adversaries,” he said in a statement.

“His legacy will endure in all who are living better lives because of him today.”

northern-ireland-peace-process-troubles-talks David Trimble with Bertie Ahern in a meeting at Government Buildings in Dublin in 2003. RollingNews.ie RollingNews.ie

Ahern last week said he did not believe the Good Friday Agreement would have been achievable without Trimble’s efforts.

The former Taoiseach said Trimble “never blinked” and that he “stood up to the wider Unionist community” as part of the peace process.

“If David didn’t bring the unionist party with them then we didn’t have an agreement,” he said. “The agreement was four parts and that was loyalism, that was unionism, republicanism and that was nationalism. And we needed all four.”

Tomorrow the Stormont Assembly will reconvene for a special sitting to pay tribute to Trimble. 

At the end of the service the Trimble family led mourners from the church, before taking time to meet those who had attended the service.

Additional reporting by Orla Dwyer and Michelle Hennessy. 

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