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Mairead Corrigan and Betty Williams, belated winners of the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize, are the two Belfast women who, in Deutsch's view, have almost miraculously deflected the persistent ""nonevolution of the conflict"" in Northern Ireland. They are profiled here, largely in their own words, and almost wholly on their own terms, by French journalist Deutsch, who also gives a very sympathetic account of the Peace People's rather chaotic attempts to organize nonsectarian community cells and of the tenuous program of the group. They are, one cannot doubt it, fervently sincere ""ordinary"" people driven to direct action by the lunacy of the paramilitary factions, Protestant and Catholic, and the impotence and rigidity of Ulster's politicians. Both women are eloquent, both are fed up with the insularity and bigotry of Ulster where, in Betty's words, ""Every two or three hours, we resurrect the past, dust it off and throw it in someone's face."" The deaths of three children in August 1976 galvanized them into a series of protest marches in Shankhill, The Fails Road, Londonderry, and beyond. Since then, with the help of Irish journalist Ciaran McKeown, whom some consider the ideologist of their movement (and who is also interviewed here at lenght), they have been grappling toward long-range solutions, solutions which, paradoxically, must transcend politics. Mairead probably owes most to the Legion of Mary, but their still-evolving philosophy of non-violence has obvious kinship to the doctrines of Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Joan Baez supplies a brief introduction to this moving tribute for American readers.

Pub Date: Nov. 16th, 1977
Publisher: Barron's