Mediator to address Irish peace

Tim Horneman

Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Corrigan Maguire will speak on Marquette’s campus Monday about the international work she has spent her life doing.

Along with Betty Williams, Maguire won the Nobel in 1976 for her work for peace in Northern Ireland as part of the “Community of the Peace People” movement. Maguire started the movement after the deaths of her niece and two nephews who were hit by a car whose driver, an Irish Republican Army member, had been shot.

She, along with Williams and Ciaran McKeown, organized marches through Northern Ireland, demanding an end to the violence.

“20,000 people, both Protestant and Catholic, marched together, arm-in-arm, through the streets of Belfast,” said William Starr, assistant chair of the philosophy deparment and an expert on the conflicts in Northern Ireland. “It was unique, and no one could believe it could happen (since Catholics and Protestants were on difference sides). Not only that, it was nonviolent, much like Martin Luther King and Gandhi,”

Starr said that Maguire and Williams were soon subjected to death threats, “but they persevered anyway.” He credited Maguire with making the area more peaceful, and said that she and Williams “deserved their Nobels.”

Since then, Maguire has worked for peace in other countries, including Iraq. She was arrested in March 2003, shortly before the U.S. invaded Iraq last spring, for protesting the war.

The speech, scheduled for 7 p.m. today in the Weasler Auditorium, is sponsored by Marquette Student Government, the Office of Student Development and Jesuit University Students Together in Empowerment.

“She works to find reconciliation and common ground among people with differing views,” said Mark McCarthy, assistant vice president for Student Affairs in the Office of Student Development.

In Maguire’s speech, which she titled “Religion, Reconciliation and Peace Making in the Modern World,” McCarthy said Maguire will “draw on her experiences as a citizen in Ireland in the 1970s.”

McCarthy said that Maguire was chosen becasue MUSG’s speaker’s comission was looking to continue to bring Nobel Prize winners to campus. In the last few years, Oscar Arias and Desmond Tutu have spoken on campus.

“We were also interested, this year, in bringing in a woman Nobel winner, since they had not yet been represented here,” McCarthy said.

Maguire was already planning a speech this week at Baylor University, and was happy to come to Marquette as well, McCarthy said.

“She very much wants to spend time with students,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy said he was looking forward to Maguire’s speech.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to meet a Nobel laureate who has worked for peace, and I’m pleased that Marquette has speakers of this caliber to help faculty and students learn about the world,” he said.

Starr was even more enthusiastic.

“For me, it’s the genuine thrill of a lifetime to meet her,” he said. “She’s a hero for the ages.”