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David Trimble, a 1998 Nobel Peace Prize winner for his contribution to the Northern Ireland Peace Process. Image Credit: Reuters

Belfast: Former Northern Irish first minister David Trimble, a pro-British leader who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998 for his role as a key architect in ending three decade of bloodshed in the region, has died aged 77, his family said on Monday.

“It is with great sadness that the family of Lord Trimble announce that he passed away peacefully earlier today following a short illness,” Trimble’s family said in a statement published by his Ulster Unionist Party (UUP).

Trimble and John Hume, former leader of the Catholic Social Democratic and Labour Party, jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998 for their roles in helping end the sectarian violence that claimed some 3,600 lives.

“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,” UUP leader Doug Beattie said in a statement.

“He will forever be associated with the leadership he demonstrated in the negotiations that led up to the 1998 Belfast Agreement.” Brandon Lewis, who until recentely was Britain’s minister for Northern Ireland, called Trimble “a brilliant statesman” and said his legacy as an architect of the Good Friday Agreement will live on forever.

“The people of the UK owe him an immense debt of gratitude,” he said on Twitter.