Mairead Corrigan Maguire (1944–) and Betty Williams (1943–)

Mairead Corrigan Maguire and Betty Williams peace activists from Northern Ireland

Mairead Corrigan Maguire and Betty Williams are peace activists from Northern Ireland. They cofounded the Women for Peace, which later became the Community for Peace People, an organization dedicated to encouraging a peaceful resolution of the troubles in Northern Ireland. Maguire and Williams were awarded the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize. Maguire and Williams became active with the Northern Ireland peace movement after three children of Maguire’s sister, Anne Maguire, were run over and killed by a car driven by Danny Lennon, a Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) fugitive who had been fatally shot by British troops while trying to make a getaway. Betty Williams witnessed the tragedy and accused the IRA of firing at the British patrol and provoking the incident. In the days that followed, Williams began gathering signatures for a peace petition from Protestants and Catholics and was able to assemble some 200 women to march for peace in Belfast. The march passed near the home of Mairead Maguire who joined it. She and Williams thus became “the joint leaders of a virtually spontaneous mass movement.”

Although Betty Williams resigned from the Peace People in 1980, Maguire has continued her involvement in the organization to this day and has served as the group’s honorary president. It has since taken on a more global agenda, addressing an array of social and political issues from around the world.

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