Former UUP Leader David Trimble.
Belfast, Northern Ireland CNN  — 

Tributes are being paid following the death of Nobel Peace Prize winner David Trimble, an architect of the Good Friday agreement that largely ended three decades of conflict in Northern Ireland. He was 77.

Trimble had been leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, which issued a short statement 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, a former law lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast, made history as one of the key players behind the 1998 Good Friday/Belfast peace deal.

Trimble and John Hume, late leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts “to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland.”

Trimble later served as the region’s first minister until 2002. He led the Ulster Unionist Party for a decade from 1995.

Trimble resigned as UUP leader after losing his seat at the 2005 British general election to the Democratic Unionist Party, which had opposed the Good Friday Agreement.

He accepted a life peerage in the House of Lords and went on to join Britain’s Conservative Party.

Among the tributes Monday, Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin recognized Trimble’s “central contribution” to peace.

“The work of reconciliation begun in the Good Friday Agreement continues, and as new generations pick up the mantle of this work, it is fitting that we pay tribute to Lord Trimble for his central contribution in setting us on the path to peace and reconciliation,” he said.

Trimble is survived by his wife, Daphne, and their four children.