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25 - Betty Williams & Mairead Corrigan


Betty Williams (1943 - )

& Mairead Corrigan (1944 - )


In August 1976 the Northern Ireland conflict was the bloddiest in Europe. In one incident, the driver of an IRA getaway car was shot dead by British soldiers. The car smashed into a passing family, killing three children and critically injuring their mother. The resulting widespread revulsion produced the Peace People, a popular movement against violence. The leaders were Betty Williams, a housewife who saw the effects of the shot, and Mairead Corrigan, aunt of the dead children.

The two women led marches for peace in which Protestants and Catholics walked alongside each other. They were ordinary people with the courage to take the first step for peace. People from both communities came together to work in support of the peace for which they all longed.

This was a rare example of a grassroots initiative winning the prize.

"Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan have shown us what ordinary people can do to promote the cause of peace."

"They .... have refused to bow to bleak scepticism: they simply acted. They never heeded the difficulty of their task: they merely tackled it because they were so convinced that this precisely was what was needed."

The Nobel Committee

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Last modified 2005-01-17 12:33 PM

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