1998 – David Trimble, Northern Ireland peacemaker
David Trimble was an apparent Protestant “hard liner” when he was elected leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, the mainstream Protestant party in Northern Ireland, in 1995. He surprised both his followers and his opponents when he agreed to meet with John Hume and other leaders of the major parties in Ireland.
The talks resulted in the historic 1998 Good Friday Accord — an power-sharing agreement between the Catholic and Protestant political groups, as well as Sinn Feinn, the political arm of the IRA. After the signing of the accord, David Trimble served as First Minister for the first five years of the new Assembly.
Today, while the new structure has stumbled, and some doubt the future of its power-sharing agreement, the Good Friday Accord is internationally and nationally recognized as a watershed in the political history of Northern Ireland.
David Trimble continues to lead the Ulster Unionist Party, and to hold his seat in the British Parliament.