New Humanist

Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan

(Ireland del Norte) (1943-) (1944-)

“The only force that can break the barriers is the force of love, the force of truth, the force of the soul….”

Betty Williams was baptized Catholic, but born in a family that practiced different religions. Her maternal grandparents were Jewish and Catholic, her paternal grandparents were Protestants. Her maternal grandfather quickly taught her respect for different religions, and explained how he had lost family in the holocaust during World War II.

Corrigan started her activism for peace in the moment that three of her nephews were run-over by a car and killed by Danny Lennon, a fugitive of the IRA, who was then killed by British troops.

Betty Williams, a former member of the IRA, witnessed the accident, and without thinking, started knocking on all the doors of the houses in the neighborhood with profound conviction that something like this should happen never again. She was certain the senseless escalation of death should end in both factions. Within 48 hours of the incident, Williams had collected 6,000 signatures for a petition that condemned all violence in Northern Ireland.

Mairead Corrigan and the journalist Ciaran McKeown founded the Movement for Peace in Northern Ireland.
Both managed to gather more than 35,000 signatures for the peaceful resolution of the conflict, uniting Catholics and Protestants people.

In the marches the two women led, Protestants and Catholics walked together for peace. “Williams and Corrigan have demonstrated what common people can do to promote peace”. They had the courage to make the first step. They did it in the name of humanity and love for the other. Somebody has to start forgiving …”

Their simple actions inspired thousands of people. They both won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976.
Since then Mairead Corrigan continues to work mainly in ending the armed conflict in Northern Ireland but she also works to end other military confrontation by traveling around the planet and giving speeches about the different conflicts.

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