This week’s blog is written by PPI-NI staff member Laura Agnew.
It’s not every day you get to meet with a Nobel Peace Prize winner, but on Saturday, PPI-NI’s Senior Champions 4 Peace did just that. Mairead Maguire won the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to the Northern Ireland peace process following the death of her sister as a result of the conflict. Mairead could easily have let the tragic incident surrounding her family affect her attitude to the conflict. She could have been bitter, or even resort to violence herself. But instead, she became one of Northern Ireland’s first true champions for peace.
Following the tragic incident, she and an eyewitness (Betty Williams) joined forces to start a mass peace movement in Belfast. After starting a peace petition, they organised peace marches through the city and set up the organisation, which is today known as The Peace People. Despite being physically attacked during the marches, within one month The Peace People had brought 35,000 people together on the streets of Belfast to promote peace between the two conflicting religions. And 40 years later, The Peace People are celebrating the anniversary of their organisation being started, and looking back at all of the wonderful peace movements they have been involved with since.
On Saturday, a few of PPI-NI’s senior Champions 4 Peace joined the celebrations and got the chance to meet with Mairead. She chatted to them about never resorting to violence as a means to reach peace, and to encourage others to do the same. She exuded an air of love, calmness, and a light, which lit up the room as she applauded the Champions4Peace participants on their courage and commitment to preserving the peace in Northern Ireland through their involvement in PeacePlayers.
It was such a pleasure for the Champions4Peace to meet Mairead and learn about the history behind the Peace House where the PPI-NI office is located. So we would like to thank her for her time on Saturday, and her contribution to the peace process in Northern Ireland. It’s people like Mairead who are inspiring our next generation of future leaders, and who really are Champions for Peace.