Catholic and Campaigner for Peace
In August 1976, the Northern Irish secretary Mairead Corrigan’s sister lost three children in a shooting incident in Belfast. She was promptly contacted by a witness, Betty Williams, and they agreed to found a peace organization to bring an end to the bitter conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.
Mairead grew up in a poor family in Belfast. In addition to her office job, she devoted a great deal of time in her youth to charity work in the Catholic organization Legion of Mary. That gave her a good basis on which to develop the nonviolent strategy of the Community of Peace People, which brought together thousands of people in protest marches and confidence-building measures among the grassroots in 1976 and 1977.
Mairead Corrigan did not give up hope even when the Peace People lost nearly all their support in the late 1970s. She kept up her local peace work with admirable strength.