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The Rt. Hon. David Trimble

 The Rt. Hon. David Trimble
David Trimble was born in Belfast on October 15, 1944. He was educated at Bangor Grammar School (1956 to 1963), achieving distinctions in Ancient History and Modern History, and at Queens University, Belfast (1964 to 1968) where he graduated with a first class degree in law, winning the McKane medal and prize for Jurisprudence. He was called to the Bar in Northern Ireland in 1969.

He was Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Law at Queens University from 1973 to 1975 and Head of the Department of Commercial and Property Law for some ten years. Interested in politics from an early stage, David joined the Ulster Unionist Party in 1978. In addition to a number of papers and pamphlets he co-authored Northern Ireland Housing Law, contributed chapters to Human Rights and Responsibilities in Britain and Ireland, which was the product of a joint churches working party and edited the Northern Ireland Law Reports for 15 years. He resigned from the University after becoming a Member of Parliament in 1990.

Following his election to parliament Mr Trimble became the Ulster Unionist Party spokesman on Home Affairs. In the early nineties David was instrumental in obtaining amendments to a number of Home Office Bills, notably a major criminal justice and public order Act in 1993 and the Act which established the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

In September 8, 1995 David Trimble was elected leader of the Ulster Unionist Party. He established himself quickly and led Unionism into a pro-active engagement with the other parties in Ireland, north and south. He was the first Unionist leader to meet an Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) in a generation and the first ever to do so in Government Buildings in Dublin. He soon established relations with all the British national parties, and started regular visits to Washington where he was the first Unionist leader to meet the US President. Over the years he was to work closely with Prime Minister Blair, Mo Mowlam and be in regular contact with Presidents Bill Clinton, George W Bush and Irish Premier Bertie Aherne.

David Trimble managed to secure the election of negotiators to multi-party political talks in 1996. Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA, was excluded from the talks as the IRA was not observing a ceasefire. The talks made little progress until after the 1997 general election in the UK which saw the Labour Party come to office after 18 years in opposition. Sinn FeinIRA, believing that Labour would be more sympathetic to their cause, reinstated their ceasefire and was admitted to the talks. This caused two of the three major Unionist parties to withdraw but David Trimble led his UUP back into negotiations.

The result, reached on Good Friday, 10th April 1998, was the Belfast Agreement. This Agreement provided for power-sharing between unionists and nationalists in a devolved parliament, cross-border cooperation between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic and a new British-Irish relationship.

David Trimbles contribution to peace and political progress in Northern Ireland has been recognised at home and abroad. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998 alongside John Hume of the nationalist SDLP. He has also been named Parliamentarian of the Year by his peers in the British House of Commons in The House Magazine awards of 2000and in the Spectator Magazine Parliamentary awards the subsequent year. He has also been conferred with several honorary doctorates by Universities in Northern Ireland, Great Britain, the United States, Canada and Israel.

The year before David first entered political life in Northern Ireland 500 people in this small community were murdered. In recent years the fingers of one hand would suffice to count the still regrettable deaths caused by paramilitaries. Unionism which even 15 years ago was marginalised is today at centre stage, and his moderate unionism and skills as a political negotiator are respected worldwide.

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