David Trimble, former first minister and key architect of Good Friday Agreement, dead at 77

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David Trimble, a former Northern Ireland first minister who helped end decades of violence, has died at the age of 77. 

The Ulster Unionist Party, which Trimble led from 1995 to 2005, said in a statement the unionist politician died on Monday “following a short illness.”

Trimble was instrumental in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that ended three decades of violent conflict in Northern Ireland known as “The Troubles.”

The UUP was Northern Ireland’s largest Protestant unionist party when, led by Trimble, it agreed to the Good Friday peace accord.

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Although a hardliner unionist when he was younger, Trimble became a politician whose efforts in compromise became pivotal in bringing together unionists and nationalists in Northern Ireland’s new power-sharing government.

Trimble shared the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with Catholic moderate leader John Hume, head of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, for their work.

FILE: A delighted Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble speaks to the media at a hotel in Belfast, Northern Ireland, June 16, 2003, after winning a crucial vote with his party on its continued support for the Irish peace process. 
(AP Photo/Peter Morrison, File)

Trimble lost his seat in Britain’s Parliament in 2005 and soon after he resigned as party leader. The following year, he was appointed to the upper chamber of Parliament, the House of Lords. Northern Ireland power-sharing has gone through many crises since then — but the peace settlement has largely endured.

“The Good Friday Agreement is something which everybody in Northern Ireland has been able to agree with,” Trimble said earlier this year. “It doesn’t mean they agree with everything. There are aspects which some people thought were a mistake, but the basic thing is that this was agreed.”

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Trimble is survived by his wife Daphne and children Richard, Victoria, Nicholas and Sarah. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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