WATCH full tribute from Michelle O'Neill on the late David Trimble

This is the full statement from Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill in the Assembly paying tribute to the late David Trimble.

By Gemma Murray
Tuesday, 2nd August 2022, 2:35 pm

"Go raibh maith agat a Cheann Chomhairle,

"I join with colleagues across the House in conveying my sympathy and also that of the Sinn Féin party, to the family and friends of the late David Trimble whose service of thanksgiving we celebrated in Lisburn yesterday, conducted by the Reverend Fiona Forbes.

"In particular I offer my condolences to David’s wife Daphne, and their four children Richard, Victoria, Nicholas and Sarah.

The loss of David Trimble is a significant moment in our political tapestry, but it is, first and foremost, a devastating loss to his family, friends and colleagues in the Ulster Unionist party.

"Our thoughts are with them now.

"I did not know David Trimble personally, except by reputation as former Leader of the Ulster Unionist party during the 1998 Good Friday Agreement negotiations.

"There is no doubt he clearly made a huge contribution, not only in reaching that historic agreement, but by getting his party to sign on for it despite the huge challenges he faced.

Assembly sitting

"He went on to lead the new Executive as First Minister as joint head of government with the late Seamus Mallon of the SDLP.

"David served not only as a First Minister and Member of the Legislative Assembly for the constituency of Upper Bann, but also as an MP and later as a Life Peer in the House of Lords since 2006.

"David Trimble has left a legacy of hard work and commitment to creating a better and peaceful society which is to his credit.

"Despite our different political outlook and the fundamentally different political opinions we held on the constitutional way forward, I respect those differences which are equally legitimate aspirations held dearly by those of us from the different political traditions on these islands.

"Today, I put on record our recognition and respect for the courage, generosity and personal risks taken by David Trimble to achieve peace in Ireland.

"As we mourn his passing, let those of us in this House today reflect on the present realities a quarter century on from the hard won peace, and recognise that only through political maturity, civility and co-operation will politics work and deliver for the people we all serve.

"Next year we will mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

"It would be a travesty if the political accommodation which the agreement is, the political institutions, and the relationships North/South and East/West are not reset between now and then.

"History will be kind to David Trimble for the huge part he played, but it will be unforgiving to those of you who obstruct progress or refuse to show leadership.

"What was achieved by David Trimble together with the leaders of nationalism and republicanism, the Irish and British Governments, the United States and the EU cannot be underestimated.

"It can never be taken for granted.

"He and all of them leave a legacy for which any politician would be rightly proud.

"The Good Friday Agreement is a gift to today’s generation and its promise must be fully realised.

"I stand here today as a Leader of the Good Friday Agreement generation, and I want to lead and work with you all and those whom you represent.

"Anyone who sets out to undermine this work and turns this place upside down should not be in politics.

"We are thankful for the work and contribution of Mr David Trimble, former First Minister of the Northern Ireland Executive, husband of Daphne and father to Richard, Victoria, Nicholas and Sarah.

"May he rest in peace.

"Thank you, Mr Speaker."