William David Trimble was born on 15 October 1944. He was educated in Bangor and at Queen's University Belfast. He qualified as a barrister and began to lecture in law in 1968. He was elected to the Northern Ireland Convention in 1975 as a Vanguard Progressive Unionist Party member and for a time he served as the party's deputy leader. When the Vanguard party collapse he joined the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) in 1978 and became party secretary. He was elected to Westminster in a by-election in Upper Bann in 1990. In 1995 Trimble was elected leader of the UUP.
He opposed the role of Senator George Mitchell as chairman of the multi-party talks which resulted in the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. Trimble was seen as instrumental in getting his party to accept the unprecedented agreement. Later in 1998 Trimble and John Hume were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland. Trimble was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembley and subsequently became First Minister of Northern Ireland. The assembley was, however, suspended after only two months, but was re-instated again in 2000 after a statement by the IRA on arms decommissioning. In October 2000 Trimble was forced to suspend Sinn Féin members of the assembley from attending cross-border ministerial meetings with their conterparts in the Republic of Ireland. Since then things have deteriorated for Trimble - in 2002 the Assembly and Executive were suspended again, and in 2003, the Democratic Unionist Party became the largest unionist party in the province. Later, a UUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson resigned from the party.