Children of John Hume and David Trimble talk about the sacrifices of parents for a peace agreement

Hume and Trimble jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts in creating the historic agreement 25 years ago.

Former Ulster Unionist leader Mr Trimble died in July 2022 and former SDLP leader Mr Hume in August 2020.

Nicholas Trimble and John Hume Jr said their parents would seek solutions if they could see the political deadlock present in Northern Ireland 25 years after the Good Friday Agreement.

“I think I would try to think of a better way,” Trimble said.

“There is always a way out of difficulties and the solution Dad would come up with would never be the obvious brute force tactic, he would try to think of how to fix a problem first, and I think that is perhaps a trick he is missing. here. .”

Hume said that he thought his father would be frustrated to see the current political stalemate in Stormont.

“He would be very frustrated, just as he has been over the years with the stalemate we had for decades in the north, and I think he would do everything possible to bring the two sides together, to focus on all that is at stake. our common interest and use that common ground to build and find a way forward,” he said.

Nicholas Trimble said that while he may have been too young to fully understand the nature of his father’s work between 1996 and 1998, Trimble said the whole family felt the excitement of the bargaining period.

“Our house would have been used quite a lot for dad to meet so many people, so there was always an open door of people who had no idea who would come in and sit with dad in the living room,” he said. saying.

“I was running like a little terror in the house, wanting to be nosy, what’s going on in there? What is all this talking about?

“It became kind of an unwritten rule that in the house, the kids would answer the phone because we actually loved it, this was a great novelty. So, we were the telephone answering service.”

As he got older, Trimble said he became more aware of the virulence present in politics at the time.

“You realized there was an evil in politics, and sometimes it got physical,” he said.

“Mom came back from the recounts with bruises on her shins where people kicked her and stuff. It was hard. It was wild.”

UUP Councilor Nicholas Trimble of Lisburn & Castlereagh Council, son of David Trimble, former Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, at the Lagan Valley Island Civic Centre, Lisburn, ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.  PA photo.  Picture date: Monday 27 March 2023.  See PA story ULSTER Nobel Agreement.  Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
UUP Councilor Nicholas Trimble of Lisburn & Castlereagh Council, son of David Trimble (Liam McBurney/PA Wire)

Trimble added: “Fortunately that’s over. I certainly hope it’s over, I certainly hope we never go back to those days, because politics shouldn’t be at that low level, it shouldn’t be an attack, you should try to create something new and it works. with people.”

David Trimble died on July 25, 2022, and his son said the funeral showed the impact his father had had.

“When someone loses their father, it’s a raw, visceral moment,” he said.

“But there was a tremendous outpouring of sympathy and good wishes internationally. I mean, it was amazing. Only the letters that came to mom’s house, you know, kept coming.”

Trimble said his father’s legacy is lasting peace in Northern Ireland.

“He laid the foundation for this new Northern Ireland that we’re in, really, and you know no one person can take full credit for the deal, but there are some people who if they weren’t there they wouldn’t make it.” It hasn’t happened. And I think my dad was one of those people,” he said.

“He knew it would happen at great cost, but he did it anyway. I will always, always love and respect the man for doing that.”

Trimble added: “It took a lot of courage for what he did, and I think his legacy is the lasting peace we have. I just hope that legacy is enough to help our current politicians overcome the obstacles they face right now.”

Trimble also said that his father had a side that not many could see.

“I know you have this reputation… as a sort of man of logic and rationality, and not so much of emotion. But he had a funny side that not many people got to see,” he said.

“He was a good man and he was an honest man, and I think he did the best he could in the best way he could.”

John Hume Jr.
John Hume Jr said his father gave his life working for a peace agreement (Brian Lawless/PA)

John Hume Jr was in his late twenties and working abroad at the time of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

“I wasn’t actually in the house while all this craziness was going on and we were getting closer to a deal, but I would have been on the phone every day and I would have been talking to mom and dad, there was a ton of excitement as we got closer. and the prospects for a deal became much more real,” he said.

The signing of the agreement was the achievement of a lifetime for his father, Hume said.

“When it was all over, I was talking to both of them, but the pure joy and happiness and, in a way, the relief that there was a new beginning and that there was a new dawn in many ways was very, very clear. ”

Hume added: “He gave his life to this. He was unbreakable. He chose his path and stuck to it throughout his career. It was, I guess, that it all came together, so it was a wonderful day.”

Hume also stated that the arrangement was not without personal sacrifice for his father.

“The years before Good Friday were really difficult for dad, he had a lot of health problems, many of them caused, I think, by the stress of his job,” he said.

“It was a difficult time, they were very delicate negotiations, there was a lot going on, there were ups and downs, it was a roller coaster for both him and his mother.”

Hume said that his father was also willing to make political sacrifices to achieve peace.

“Dad’s career was long and lonely,” he said.

“In the 90s, in particular, when Dad started talking to Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein and the IRA, he was under a lot of pressure.

Commendations of Peace Bestowed on the Late John Hume
Peace Commendations bestowed on the late John Hume, on display at Derry’s Guildhall (Liam McBurney/PA)

“He was pressured not only by the media, but also by other political parties, but also from within the SDLP.

“His point of view was always very much, ‘Well, if I can solve a problem that having thousands of soldiers on the street for many, many years hasn’t been able to solve just by talking to someone, then it’s my duty to do it. ‘ and that’s what he did.

“He weathered a big storm.”

As with Mr. Trimble’s family, the Hume family witnessed the strength of feelings some people had at the time towards their father’s career.

“I remember one day I picked up the newspaper and there were 10 pages dedicated to dad and the mistakes he was making, and some pretty scathing comments. It was a very, very difficult time,” Hume said.

John Hume’s compromise is something more politicians can learn from today, his son said.

“He got involved because he felt he needed it, that kind of real dedication to public service, to help his community, to help Derry, to make it a better place, to make the north and the island of Ireland a better place, that’s it. it is really what is needed in public service today,” he said.

Hume said that his father’s legacy only became more apparent as he grew older.

“I never really saw him as a public figure, only now that I start reading and seeing the history of it all, I really just scratch my head and wonder how he worked, what he did and what he accomplished. achieve,” he said.

He added: “Even though he was a very committed politician and married to work in more ways than one, he still found time for all of us.

“It was still a great family and we have amazing vacations, great memories. I think he was an extraordinary individual.”


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