1976 Nobel Peace Prize-winner for her efforts to create a grassroots movement to end decades of violence in Northern Ireland.
Máiread Corrigan was born in 1944 to a poor Catholic family in Belfast. Sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland between Protestants and Catholics had 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 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.
Máiread 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.
Her sister, Anne, was badly hurt in the crash. People from both sides protested about the needless deaths of the children. Máiread joined Betty Williams and journalist friend Ciaran McKeown to create the Community of Peace People to organise weekly peace marches and demonstrations. More than half a million people from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the British mainland attended these rallies to demand an end to the violence.
Máiread has since sought to promote dialogue between divided communities through speaking engagements, writings, and participation in grassroots peace initiatives. She 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. She has been a member of PeaceJam since 1996.