Former Northern Ireland first minister David Trimble has died aged 77, it has been announced.

Mr Trimble as leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) along with John Hume, leader of the SDLP, were the main movers behind the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which helped establish the power sharing executive at Stormont and bring about an end to the Troubles.

During the peace talks he was heavily criticised by other unionist politicians including many within his own party, but he pressed on to broker the historic peace deal.

He and Mr Hume were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their achievements.

As the first person to serve in the role of first minister of Northern Ireland, Mr Trimble was in post from 1998 to 2002. He was leader of the UUP from 1995 to 2005.

Born in Bangor in 1944, the Co Down man distinguished himself in an academic career in the law faculty at the Queen's University Belfast before moving into politics.

Mr Trimble left academia for politics full time when he was elected as MP for Upper Bann following a by-election in 1990 after the death of the incumbent Harold McCusker.

He rose to prominence partly due to the Drumcree dispute as nationalist residents opposed the procession of an orange parade along the Garvaghy Road.

He led the parade along the road in 1995, famously joining hands with Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley in a move which showed him to be on the hardline of unionism at the time before his transformation into a more moderate statesman.

In 2005 Mr Trimble lost his seat in the House of Commons, but was granted a peerage in the upper House of Lords, where he switched allegiance to the Conservative Party in 2006.

In a statement on behalf of the Trimble family, the UUP said: "It is with great sadness that the family of Lord Trimble announce that he passed away peacefully earlier today following a short illness."

UUP leader Doug Beattie paid tribute to Lord Trimble saying his death would cause "deep sadness" throughout Northern Ireland and much further afield.

Mr Beattie said: "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.

"He will forever be associated with the leadership he demonstrated in the negotiations that led up to the 1998 Belfast Agreement.

"The bravery and courage he demonstrated whilst battling his recent illness was typical of the qualities he showed in his political career, at Stormont and at Westminster.

"He will be remembered as a First Minister, as a peer of the realm and as a Nobel Prize winner. He will also be remembered as a great Unionist.

"On behalf of the Ulster Unionist Party, and with a very heavy heart, I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to his wife Lady Trimble and his children, Richard, Victoria, Sarah and Nicholas."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Irish premier Micheal Martin were among those paying tribute to his legacy.

Mr Johnson tweeted: "He was a giant of British and international politics and will be long remembered for his intellect, personal bravery and fierce determination to change politics for the better."

In a statement Taoiseach Micheal Martin said: "I wish to express my deepest condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of David Trimble.

"He played a key role as leader of the UUP, and his was a long and distinguished career in Unionist politics and in the politics of Northern Ireland. All of us in politics at the time witnessed his crucial and courageous role in the negotiations leading to the Good Friday Agreement and his leadership in building support in his party and his community for the Agreement.

"Fittingly, his contribution was recognised internationally and most notably by the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to himself and John Hume 'for their joint efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland'.

"As the first first minister of Northern Ireland he began the arduous work of bedding down the executive and delivering for the people of Northern Ireland.

"In his speech accepting the Nobel Prize, Trimble spoke about the 'politicians of the possible', a phrase which I think sums up the David Trimble we all knew, and it speaks to his achievements over many decades, often in challenging circumstances.

"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."

Sinn Fein's vice president Michelle O'Neill tweeted: "It is with genuine regret that I have learned of the passing of former first minister, David Trimble.

"I wish to offer my sincere condolences to his wife Daphne, their four children and the wider family circle who will feel his loss deeply.

"His very significant contribution to the peace process and his courage in helping achieve the Good Friday Agreement leaves a legacy a quarter century on for which he and his family should be rightly proud."

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of the DUP, which opposed the agreement, said he was "deeply saddened" to learn of David Trimble's passing and his thoughts were with Daphne and their children.

He said Mr Trimble made a huge contribution to Northern Ireland, and to political life in the United Kingdom.

In a statement he said: "Throughout some of the most difficult years of the Troubles David was a committed and passionate advocate for the Union, at a time when doing so placed a considerable threat to his safety.

"Whilst our political paths parted within the Ulster Unionist Party, there can be no doubting his bravery and determination in leadership at that time. He was a committed and passionate unionist who always wanted the best for Northern Ireland.

"Right until recent days David continued to use his political skill and intellect, most recently in support of the United Kingdom's decision to leave the European Union and in opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

"As a Nobel laureate, his words carried significant weight and he helped raise awareness of the threat the protocol posed to Northern Ireland, particularly amongst the wider UK audience. He leaves a huge and lasting legacy to Northern Ireland. He can undoubtedly be said to have shaped history in our country."

Former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has expressed his "deep regret" at David Trimble's passing and extended his "sincere condolences" to his widow Daphne, their children, and his former UUP colleagues.

In a statement Mr Adams said: "David faced huge challenges when he led the Ulster Unionist Party in the Good Friday Agreement negotiations and persuaded his party to sign on for it. It is to his credit that he supported that Agreement. I thank him for that.

"In the years immediately following the Agreement I met David many times. Our conversations were not always easy but we made progress. We used to meet quite often on our own and I got to know him quite well. While we held fundamentally different political opinions on the way forward nonetheless I believe he was committed to making the peace process work.

"David's contribution to the Good Friday Agreement and to the quarter century of relative peace that followed cannot be underestimated. I want to extend my sincerest condolences to Daphne Trimble, their daughters Victoria and Sarah, their sons Richard and Nicholas and to the entire family circle. Ar dheis De go raibh a anam dilis".

Former Northern Ireland secretary Lord Peter Mandelson said: "David Trimble not only took on the Herculean task of negotiating the Good Friday Agreement on behalf of unionists but went through all the pain and strife of implementing it.

"Throughout, he faced unending onslaught from people in his own community - I know because we faced many of these audiences together - and ultimately he didn't buckle. He was a courageous man who has earned his place in history."

Ireland's further education minister Simon Harris extended his "deepest sympathy" to Lord Trimble's family.

In a post on Twitter Mr Harris said: "Sending deepest sympathy to the family & friends of David Trimble.

"Sad to hear of his passing tonight. This beautiful tribute a few weeks ago from @QUBelfast is worth a look at in his memory.

"He played a very important role in building peace on our island. May he rest in peace."

Former taoiseach John Bruton has said Mr Trimble was "one of the bravest and most straight forward people" that he has known.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has said Mr Trimble "demonstrated immense courage" during the Good Friday Agreement negotiations and has left an "indelible mark on our shared island's story".

In a statement he said that "without David Trimble's fortitude, there would simply have been no agreement".

Jim Allister, who leads the TUV, a rival unionist party in Northern Ireland, which opposed the Good Friday Agreement, said: "I am greatly saddened to learn of the passing of Lord David Trimble and wish to express to Lady Trimble and the family sincere condolences.

"Though politically we fundamentally disagreed over the Belfast Agreement, latterly as joint applicants in the Judicial Review challenge to the Protocol we shared a common determination to rid Northern Ireland of this iniquitous assault on our constitutional position.

"David had a very clear and correct view of the dangers and unacceptability of the Protocol.

"I have known David and Daphne Trimble since my university days when David was one of my lecturers and Daphne was a fellow student in my law year. As a couple throughout their married life Daphne gave exemplary support to David and in his declining health was a tower of strength to him. So, in losing David, Daphne has suffered a great loss and Northern Ireland has lost a foremost thinker within unionism."

Brandon Lewis, who resigned as Northern Ireland secretary earlier this month, tweeted: "Incredibly sad news that David Trimble has died. A brilliant statesman and dedicated public servant, 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 for all he achieved for our Union."

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: "Very sad news. David Trimble was a towering figure of Northern Ireland and British politics as one of the key authors of the Good Friday Agreement, the first First Minister and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. My thoughts are with Lady Trimble and their family."