Lord Trimble was “a giant of Irish and international politics”, his former adviser has said.
Lord Paul Bew advised David Trimble when he was the Ulster Unionist leader, and was a colleague during the Nobel Laureate’s time as an academic.
A tribute to Lord Trimble was posted on the door of a lecture hall at Queen’s yesterday, where he was an honorary professor and graduate.
“Lord Trimble was a giant of Irish and international politics. But he was also a Queen’s University man,” he said.
“Proud of his undergraduate education and later role on the academic staff, the sharp legal mind he developed at the university was the clue to his intellectual self-confidence and was at the core of his assured handling of the Good Friday Agreement negotiation.”
Professor Ian Greer, president and vice-chancellor of Queen’s, added: “David Trimble had incredible impact with a substantial contribution as an international statesman and champion of peace.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken described him as “an architect of the historic Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, which brought stability and hope to Northern Ireland”.
And former US President Bill Clinton – who also played a key role leading up to the peace deal – said Lord Trimble’s “lifetime of service” helped bring peace to Northern Ireland.
In a statement, Mr Clinton said: “Hillary and I are deeply saddened by the passing of Lord David Trimble, a leader of courage, vision, and principle whose lifetime of service helped bring peace to Northern Ireland.
“Time after time during the negotiations that led to the Good Friday Agreement, he 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. His legacy will endure in all who are living better lives because of him today.”
The 77-year-old peer and ex-leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, who jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize with late SDLP leader John Hume, died on Monday following an illness.
His funeral will take place in Lisburn on Monday, with the service to be held at Harmony Hill Presbyterian Church at 12.30pm.
Former US senator George Michell said there would have been no Agreement without Lord Trimble. Mr Mitchell – who chaired the peace talks – said people here owe Lord Trimble “a heavy debt of gratitude for the personal and political sacrifices he made”.
“He will be remembered as a major political leader whose courage and determination saved hundreds of lives and changed for the better thousands more,” Mr Mitchell added.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair also said peace “wouldn’t have happened” without the contribution of Lord Trimble.
“It is as simple as that. What he gave not just through the period of negotiation… but in the years afterwards it was a masterclass of leadership,” Mr Blair told the BBC.
“He was highly intelligent and he was very courageous. Once he took a decision he was pretty immovable. It was really that combination of high quality intellect and he did have a vision for Northern Ireland.”
Books of condolence to the former leader are being opened across Northern Ireland.
Belfast Lord Mayor Tina Black opened the book of condolence in Lord Trimble’s memory at City Hall, with Derry City and Strabane Mayor Sandra Duffy opening a book in Londonderry’s Guildhall.
The Assembly will hold a special sitting next Tuesday to pay tribute to Lord Trimble.
Outgoing speaker Alex Maskey said: “It is important that the Assembly formally expresses its condolences upon the loss of Lord Trimble, the first first minister of this Assembly and it is only right that this should take place in the Assembly Chamber.”