David Trimble funeral: ‘Can we use this service to redouble our efforts on this island home of ours?’

The funeral service for peace process architect David Trimble should be used as an inspiration to break the political impasse in Northern Ireland, mourners have been told.

ritish Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Taoiseach Micheal Martin were among the mourners at Harmony Hill Presbyterian Church in Lisburn, Co Antrim, for the funeral of the former first minister.

President Michael D Higgins, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O’Neill also attended the service in Lambeg.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Lord Trimble died last week at the age of 77 following an illness.

The former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party played a key role in forging the 1998 Good Friday/Belfast Agreement that ended decades of conflict in Northern Ireland.

Months after the deal was signed, the peer, from Co Down, was jointly awarded the Nobel prize with late SDLP leader John Hume in recognition of their efforts to stop the bloodshed and establish a powersharing system of devolved governance in the region.

On Tuesday, the Stormont Assembly will reconvene for a special sitting to pay tribute to Lord Trimble.

The institutions are currently on ice, with the DUP blocking the creation of a powersharing administration in protest at Brexit’s Northern Ireland Protocol.

Lord Trimble’s widow, Lady Daphne, took her place in the front row as the coffin was carried into the church by their sons and daughters.

Rev Fiona Forbes told the funeral service: “On behalf of the Trimble family circle and Harmony Hill Presbyterian Church I welcome you to this service of thanksgiving for the life of William David Trimble.

“The array of those who have gathered today to pay their respects bears witness not only to David’s impact on the political landscape of which he was so much a part, but also to the imprints he left upon the same, and to the legacy he left all of us.

On the morning of the funeral of Lord David Trimble, the Irish national flag hangs at half mast at the Embassy of Ireland in London. May he rest in peace. August 1, 2022

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

“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.”

The order of service for Lord Trimble’s funeral closes with a relaxed holiday picture August 1, 2022

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

He told the funeral service in Lisburn: “On behalf of the family we would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who’s expressed their sympathies and their kind words.”

Mr Trimble and his sister Victoria then delivered Bible readings.

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

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin attends the funeral of Northern Ireland’s former First Minister David Trimble, one of the key peace brokers of the Good Friday Agreement, at Harmony Hill Presbyterian Church, in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, August 1, 2022. REUTERS/Johanna Geron

Delivering a tribute at the service, he said: “Alongside others, he rose to seemingly impossible challenges with considerable strength of character, intellectual acumen, and complete integrity.

“The reward for all of us has been a radically changed landscape here in Northern Ireland, which has saved many lives and allowed a generation to grow up in relative peace.

“As so many have said over these past few days, history will be exceedingly kind to David even if life brought many unrelenting pressures and demands.”

Dr McMullen added: “He was a committed family man and as I have sat with Daphne, his daughters Victoria and Sarah, sons Richard and Nicholas over these past few days I have been deeply touched and moved by so many stories, all of which underlined how dearly loved he was by them.

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Mourners bow their heads in prayer at the funeral of former Northern Ireland first minister and UUP leader David Trimble, who died last week aged 77, at Harmony Hill Presbyterian Church, Lisburn.Liam McBurney/PA Wire

“They gave him to us and we want to take this opportunity to express our deepest appreciation to them.”

Rev Charles McMullen told the funeral service how the Omagh bombing doubled the determination of Lord Trimble to achieve peace in Northern Ireland.

He said: “As first minister, David had to cut short a family holiday in order to get home to visit Omagh in the aftermath of that terrible bombing which killed so many, an experience that left him utterly devastated but doubled his determination to keep building bridges and working for peace.

“I can remember bumping into him days after the conclusion of the Good Friday Agreement and hearing how afterwards on his way home he had gone to a hole in the wall but could not remember his pin number.

“That was an indication of being under almost unbearable stress, but then he always had the courage of his convictions and was prepared to pay the cost.”

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The current moderator of the Presbyterian Church, John Kirkpatrick speaking at the funeral of former Northern Ireland first minister and UUP leader David Trimble, who died last week aged 77, at Harmony Hill Presbyterian Church, Lisburn. Picture date: Monday August 1, 2022. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Referencing Lord Trimble’s Nobel Peace Prize winning speech in 1998, he told the funeral service: “In that speech, David made this inspiring comment. ‘The dark shadow we seem to see in the distance is not really a mountain ahead, but the shadow of the mountain behind – a shadow from the past thrown forward into our future. It is a dark sludge of historical sectarianism. We can leave it behind us if we wish. But both communities must leave it behind, because both created it’.

“It is a very powerful quotation because it reminds us of the achievements of the Good Friday Agreement in placing the principle of consent at the center of our politics and ultimately removing the gun.

“It reminds us also that although we are on a journey from the past, the mountain still casts a shadow and we are all, to a greater or lesser extent, recovering sectarians.

“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?

“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.”

Lord Trimble is survived by his wife Lady Daphne Trimble and the couple’s four children.

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