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David Trimble’s letter to a grievously ill Martin McGuinness gives “intriguing insight”

A letter written by Unionist leader David Trimble to his nationalist counterpart Martin McGuinness, who was then grievously ill, has been described as giving an “intriguing insight” into the time. 

Lord Trimble’s letter offered sympathy to Mr McGuinness and his family on the news of his serious illness and looks back on the period of the peace process which led to the Good Friday agreement. 

Shared by Martin McGuinness’s brother Declan on Twitter, the letter showed the warm personal regard Trimble had for the former nationalist leader – who he said was “indispensable” during peace negotiations. 

Declan McGuinness said that he was sharing the letter after the “sad passing” of David Trimble reminded him of the “warm letter” he had written to Martin, which he said showed a then “revealing alternative to public perception”. 

The Unionist politician said that he wanted to share how much he appreciated all that Mr McGuinness had done to achieve the setting up of the Assembly.  He noted that the “even tempered manner” and “good humour” that Mr McGuinness brought to the negotiations were never at the expense of his principles. 

Lord Trimble added that if Mr McGuiness was still at the helm, the difficulties in getting the institutions in the north up and running again could be faced with greater optimism. 

Journalist Paul McFadden that the letter was a “remarkable expression of sympathy” which offered” an intriguing and surprising insight into the mind of Lord Trimble”.

Declan McGuinness also shared that Lord Trimble had also wished to visit his brother in hospital during his illness but that couldn’t happen. 

David Trimble passed away yesterday after a short illness. He was formerly the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 along with SDLP leader John Hume.

He was described by his party yesterday  as a “political giant”.

“David Trimble was a man of courage and vision. He chose to grasp the opportunity for peace when it presented itself and sought to end the decades of violence that blighted his beloved Northern Ireland,” the UUP said. 

Martin McGuinness died in Derry, surrounded by his family, in 2017 after a short illness. The former IRA commander was deputy First Minister in Stormont until just months before he died. 

He was remembered as a “great family man” who was “immensely proud” of the people of Derry, and praised by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair amongst others for his leadership, courage and quiet insistence that the past should not define the future. 

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