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Corrigan Maguire on U.S. peace tour

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

As she has done for more than 20 years, Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Corrigan Maguire was talking peace last week during a U.S. visit spanning cities as far apart as New York and Omaha.

"I always knew there would be difficulties and that it would be a long, hard road," Corrigan Maguire said.

She was referring to the Northern Ireland peace process and the Good Friday accord, both of which have come under increasing pressure in recent weeks.

However, Corrigan Maguire, who has just published her first book, "The Vision of Peace, Faith and Hope in Northern Ireland," said that she was still more than hopeful that peace would eventually be secured.

She said that it was now vital to get the proposed new government up and running with both Sinn Féin’s inclusion and broad support for the assembly leaders, David Trimble and Seamus Mallon.

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"I’m a pacifist. I want to see all the guns given up and a disarmed police, but I recognize the deep fears. The situation now is very risky," Corrigan Maguire said.

She added that healing in the North would take time and that reconciliation was just beginning with the process of "getting guns out of the situation."

But there was a danger of "institutionalizing green and orange politics," she warned.

"That would bring us back to square one," she said. "We must create politics in which we vote for people as a result of bread-and-butter issues. We need to build trust. Politicians need support but people have to build relationships. It’s going to take a generation to create a genuine peaceful community."

Corrigan Maguire, who co-founded the Peace People and shared the Nobel Prize with Betty Williams in 1976, said it was "tremendous" that John Hume and David Trimble shared the latest peace Nobel.

"We need to keep that momentum going," she said.

Corrigan Maguire’s book, with a preface by the Dalai Lama and a foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, is an account of her efforts for peace, not just in Northern Ireland but around the world. It is published by Orbis Books at the Maryknoll Center in Ossining, N.Y., and is available from bookstores.

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