Mairead Corrigan Maguire
1976 Nobel Peace Prize Winner
"Don't let flags and religions get in the way of looking
somebody in the eye and seeing the beauty of the human person.”
~ Mairead Corrigan Maguire
Maguire was born in 1944 to a poor Catholic family in Belfast. Religious conflict in Northern Ireland between Protestants and Catholics existed for centuries, but worsened because of economic and political problems in the period from 1969-1998 known as "The Troubles." Many Catholics wanted Northern Ireland to become part of the Nationalist Republic of Ireland to the south while many Protestants wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom. Catholics and Protestants lived in segregated communities, attended separate schools, and experienced different privileges and rights.
Maguire became part of the peace movement because of a tragic event. On August 10, 1976, three children - two of her nephews and one of her nieces - were struck and killed by the getaway car of a nationalist Irish Republican Army gunman who was shot by British soldiers. Máiread's sister, Anne, was badly hurt in the crash. People from both sides protested the needless deaths of the children. Maguire joined Betty Williams and journalist friend Ciaran McKeown to create the Community of the Peace People to organize weekly peace marches and demonstrations. More than half a million people from Northern Ireland, Ireland, and England attended these rallies to demand an end to the violence.
Maguire has since sought to promote dialogue between divided communities through speaking engagements, writings, and participation in grassroots peace initiatives. Maguire has joined her sister Nobel Peace Laureates to form the Nobel Women’s Initiative, to bring attention to women and children’s rights around the world. Maguire has been a member of PeaceJam since 1996.