Daniel Berrigan Walt Whitman Martin Sheen Nick Virgilio Edwina Gateley Mother Theresa Thich Naht Hahn Mairead Corrigan Mick Maloney Eugene O’Donnell Barbara Dever Harry Reasoner Othmar Carli Sister Peg Hynes Cesar Chavez Eileen Egan Paddy Doherty Michael Flatley Tommy Sands Lester Conner Father Des Wilson
FAMOUS FACES AT SACRED HEART
Mairead Corrigan and Betty Williams, from Belfast, Northern Ireland, won the 1976 Nobel Prize for Peace in 1976. The following is an article from The Nobel web site.
When Egil Aarvik, vice-chairman of the committee presented the postponed 1976 prize to Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan in 1977, he began his speech with a graphic description of the tragic accident that had occurred the previous August on a street in Belfast in Northern Ireland. A car out of control, its driver an Irish Republican Army (IRA) gunman shot dead fleeing from British soldiers, smashed into a family out for a walk. Two of the children were killed outright, the third was mortally injured, and the mother critically injured.
This senseless killing of innocent children produced a wave of revulsion against the violence which had been sweeping Northern Ireland, with Catholic IRA members using murder and terror to drive out the British, Protestant extremists doing the same in response, and many innocent victims killed as a consequence. The movement was led by Betty Williams, a housewife who came upon the scene after she heard the shot, and Mairead Corrigan, the young aunt of the dead children.
Aarvik told how the two women led marches in which Protestants and Catholics walked together in demonstrations for peace and against violence. That so many people in Northern Ireland had recognized that violence cannot bring social justice, Aarvik declared, gave hope that this could be “the dawn of a new day bringing lasting peace to the sorely tried people of Ulster.”
Williams and Corrigan “have shown us what ordinary people can do to promote peace.” They had the courage to take the first step. “They did so in the name of humanity and love of their neighbour; someone had to start forgiving. … Love of one’s neighbor is one of the foundation stones of the humanism on which our western civilization is built.” It is vitally important that it “should shine forth when hatred and revenge threaten to dominate.” Theirs was “a courageous unselfish act that proved an inspiration to thousands, that lit a light in the darkness…”
Unfortunately, that light was dimmed in Northern Ireland until very recently. The Peace People, the organization which emerged from the movement, declined in numbers and influence. Betty Williams emigrated to the United States, where she teaches in a university and has become a stirring lecturer on peace. Mairead Corrigan Maguire has continued to work with the Peace People in Belfast and has also effectively carried her message of nonviolence into other countries. Quakers in the seventeenth century thought of themselves as “God’s ordinaries.” When ordinary people rise to face challenge, they may go far beyond the ordinary.
In September 1981 Mairead married Jackie Maguire, widower of her sister Anne, who never recovered from the tragic loss of her children and died in January 1980. Mairead is step-mother of Mark, Joanne, and Marie Louise, and mother of John Francis (b. 1982) and Luke (b. 1984).
She has continued her work with the Community of Peace People, advocating a nonviolent resolution of the Northern Ireland conflict in speaking engagements and writings. Among other projects, the Peace People organise summer camps in other European countries to provide a setting in which young Catholics and Protestants from Northern Ireland can come to know one another. The Peace People also have continued the outreach to prisoners and their families.
Mairead was a co-founder of the Committee on the Administration of Justice, a non-sectarian organisation of Northern Ireland which defends human rights and advocates repeal of the government’s emergency laws.
In pursuit of her mission to promote the establishment of peace and justice by nonviolent means, Mairead has travelled to more than twenty-five countries throughout the world. These have included the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Israel, Austria, Croatia and Slovenia. She visited Latin America as the guest of Nobel laureate Adolfo Perez Esquivel, whom she had nominated for the prize. In 1993 she travelled to Thailand with six other Nobel peace laureates in a vain effort to enter Myanmar (Burma) to protest the detention of laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. In the course of her work she has met with such world leaders as Pope John Paul II, Queen Elizabeth II, and President Jimmy Carter.
She has received honorary doctorates from U.S. institutions: the College of New Rochelle, St. Michael’s College in Vermont, and others. In 1978 she was honoured by the United Nations program for Women of Achievement. In 1990 she gave the Ava Helen Pauling lecture at Oregon State University, was a guest speaker at the Third International Conference on Human Rights in Helsinki, and received the 1990 “Pacem in Terris” Peace and Freedom Award in Davenport, Iowa. In 1992 the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation of Santa Barbara, California, granted her its Distinguished Peace Leadership Award