Lord Trimble reflects on signing of Agreement as portrait unveiled

The portrait of Lord Trimble was unveiled at Queen's University. Credit: Pacemaker

The Belfast Agreement has survived almost 25 years despite objections to some parts of it, Lord Trimble has said.

The former First Minister reflected on the 1998 peace agreement as he attended the unveiling of a new portrait of him at Queen's University on Monday evening.

Lord Trimble's role in the negotiation of the Agreement led to him being awarded, along with then SDLP leader John Hume, the Nobel Peace Prize.

The historic deal saw the establishment of power-sharing at Stormont which remains in place despite being unable to fully function in a stalemate over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

"The Good Friday Agreement is something which everybody in Northern Ireland has been able to agree with, 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," he told PA.

"That is there. People are actually not throwing the agreement to pieces, their complaints are still based on the existence of the agreement.

"They are not saying 'throw it out', so that's the thing to bear in mind."

The event on Monday evening included video messages from ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair and former US President Bill Clinton.

The artwork by Colin Davidson will hang in the university's Great Hall alongside other notable alumni such as Seamus Heaney, Mary McAleese and former Chancellor Senator George Mitchell.

Mr Davidson said having grown up in Northern Ireland he watched Lord Trimble as a key player at "a very critical time in our history".

"I was very aware that I had the responsibility as an artist in painting somebody who was very instrumental in getting us to where we are now," he said.

Lord Trimble graduated from Queen's in 1968 and pursued an academic career in the law faculty before becoming Ulster Unionist leader and playing a leading role in negotiating the agreement.

Former Irish premier Bertie Ahern was also among guests who attended Riddel Hall for the portrait unveiling.

He paid tribute to Lord Trimble, saying he had great admiration for him, although admitting "we would argue black was white at times".

"At the same time we worked together to implement the agreement, to try to make sure there was a better future for the people here," he said.