Whatever happened to the Peace People…?

It blew up thirty years ago, seemed to want to change the world with its monster demonstrations, and a few isolated attacks on its supporters, it then died down after two of its leading lights were awarded Nobel Peace Prizes. But, notes Jim Gilchrist in the Scotsman, violence dropped by some 70% after August 1976.

  • ciaran damery

    ‘Peace people’ me ass? Corrigan and Williams were British creations who soon took the nobel prize money and ran….just like Trimble.

  • seabhac siulach

    Whatever happened to the Peace People?

    They all went back to comfortable middleclass living once the fashionable ‘peace’ trend had passed (a bit like Live8 last year, anyone remember that?)…wasn’t there a final disagreement over a fur coat bought with the Nobel peace prize money…says it all, I’m afraid…

    “…violence dropped by some 70% after August 1976”

    Wasn’t this more to do with Brit ‘security’ force successes against the Provos following the disastrous ceasefire of 1975…, and a subsequent lessening in attacks, than anything to do with a bunch of well meaning, let’s-all-hold-hands-and-the-problems-of-discrimination-and-sectarianism-will-just
    -disappear, hippies…

  • ciaran damery

    Having said that, obviously the tragic deaths of the three kids were shameful. But their early deaths played right into the hands of the occupying army who shot dead Vol. Danny Lennon as he tried to evade capture. Many republicans will remember the bravery, military prowess and patriotism of Vol. Lennon in the years prior to his death. Despite the tragic circumstances surrounding the childrens’ deaths, Danny will always be remembered as a proud Irish soldier.

  • Robert Keogh

    violence dropped by some 70% after August 1976.

    Correlation does not prove causation.

  • boshank

    I understand that some set up an orchard in British Columbia where they hug trees 24/7 and some are knitting their own fair trade organic yogurts with bolivian peasant farmers and one moved to New York and proved to be the inspiration behind Bret Esaton Ellis’ American Psycho novel.

  • ulickmagee

    I once attended a seminar in which a peace person was talking. His voice …..spoke quietly, very slowly and white dribbles formed on the side of his mouth.

    After an hour I came to the conclusion that if Ghandi had of been there he would have brained this bollox for taking the piss.

    He used the phrase – ‘we’re all the same’ you know! I then got up in full room decided enough was enough. On the way out I looked at the attendees – alliance party to a man and that included the women.

    Peace off ……

    I suppose in the 1970s they had a purpose in assuring or reassuring those middle class catholics and protestants that they weren’t as bad as the working classes.

    If you ever want to locatte where the peace people are now look a the right on organisations which permeate our society

    enter stage left – the equality commission – or not so equality commission if youre female.

  • Cato

    Five comments on this post so far and each one mean spirited and nasty. These were people who foresaw Enniskillen, Sean Graham, Loughinisland, the Shankill Road, Greysteel, Warrenpoint, Omagh, and all the other subsequent bloodthirsty atrocities and tried to do something about them. The idea that they were created by the Government is incorrect. They may have been encouraged once they had begun but initially this was a spontaneous movement which tapped into a war weary psyche.

  • ulickmagee

    cato ….

    These were people who foresaw Enniskillen………

    Stevie Wonder could have foresaw terrorist incidents by the state and the communities in the height of 70’s and 80’s violence. To suggest they tried to stop it is rather shortsighted and nonsense. Do you honestly believe that the UDA and IRA gave two fiddlers about them. Yes they weren’t created by Government but they sure took the soup when it was on offer and it’s paid off for most of them.

    I know of at least three men from both communities who played their part in bringing an end to this nonsense in this country and they didn’t raise their profiles or seek awards or rewards. They have my respect always not load of muppets who did it for self glory!

  • ciaran damery

    Just one point Ulick. You refer to the ‘peace people’ as an organization designed to undermine the liberation struggle by Oglaigh Na hEireann and you suggest that the former were also designed to apply pressure to the Unionist UDA. Of course, with the benefit of hindsight we now know that the uda were part and parcel of the British war machine. So to suggest that Oglaigh Na hEireann and uda were somehow morally (or militarily) equivalent is an absolute fallacy. The UDA was a legal sectarian terrorist tool of the occupier, in the seventies.

  • Cato

    Thousands of people go on the march through London to ‘Stop the War’ and, despite the fact that organisers and participants knew it would not make the slightest difference to Bush and Blair it was lauded as a magnificent example of democracy in action.
    The Peace People go on their own Stop the War march in Belfast in the Seventies and they are sniggered at because they are middle class people who just don’t understand.


    ‘I know of at least three men from both communities who played their part in bringing an end to this nonsense in this country and they didn’t raise their profiles or seek awards or rewards’

    Are we now suggesting that all political activism has to go on in the shadows? There is this horrible trend in Northern Ireland that says that whenever someone does something good, they are obviously getting something out of it themselves.

  • ulickmagee

    ciaran damery….i think youre reading another website. i didn’t suggest they were an organisation or applying pressure to anyone. Obviously you didn’t check page 65, of your speak and spell republican hand book on how to write without sounding like your sitting at home playing with your action men.

    cato ….i didn’t suggest that at all, but i have more respect for men and women who act in the best interest of all communities who don’t seek media publicity, titles or jobs in ineffectual watery, right on organisations.

    I can think clearly of several who did.

    ‘and they are sniggered at because they are middle class people who just don’t understand’.

    need i say more………….

  • Cormac

    Betty Williams has been in the news again for all the wrong reasons – although to be fair her statement that she ‘would love to kill George Bush’ is probably just an Irishism that’s been misinterpreted. See here

  • heres hoping

    The NIO Peace People are still with us but they are more subtle today they are the NIO Community Relations Sector and until the NIO deem them to be of no furhter use they will still be with us. Their goal in the seventies is still the same today blame all the ills of this sectarian state on the two warring tribe and protray the Brits as honest broker caught in the middle.

  • John Maynard

    We hear the argument above from republicans rather a lot – but it is slightly undermined by the fact that the prods won’t wear it.

  • ciaran damery

    John I could resort to the sarcastic approach adapted by ulick when responding to your post. I hate to generalize, but unionists have a habit of shouting down republicans (mar shampla, the behavior of Unionist counsellors when mandated SF reps speak at council meetings) or sneering or most nauseating of all, when they try to act like British parliamentarians make loud noises not unlike herds of cows. They use these tactics cuz they refuse to engage in the process and prefer to refer to us and rival unionists in a pejorative manner, it’s the only tactic they have left. But Irish Republicanism is bigger than the cheap snide remarks. Whilst one can understand why great men like Mickey McKevitt and Ruari O’Bradaigh advised mainstream republicanism that unionists are just bigots, that ya can’t teach pork, that there’s no point in engaging with simpletons who will do as the brits tell them anyway cuz they have no choice. But anyway John Maynard, “the prods won’t wear it”? Nobody’s asking you to wrap the green flag around you. In fact nobody really cares what you wear. Unlike Paisleyism/Orangeism, the Irish nation has been blessed with politicians who see the big picture, who have learned to dismiss the absurd trumpet playing by Sammy Wilson and BoxCar willie and other such antics. We will have our country back. A reunified pluralistic Irish nation will be the denouement of this ancient conflict between the descenders of planters and the indigenous Irish people. But once you behave johnny, you can stay. Meanwhile, what’s it got to do with “prods”? Is Eames in on this sectarian lark? Is the arch-bishop or cardinal or whatever? Or is it just Mullah Paisley?

  • Cormac,
    It was interesting to read the post about Ms Williams @
    Right Wing Nut House on Monday, who was shocked at the reaction of her audience which was made up of children.

    “I have a very hard time with this word ‘non-violence’, because I don’t believe that I am non-violent,” said Ms Williams, 64.

    Right now, I would love to kill George Bush.” Her young audience at the Brisbane City Hall clapped and cheered.”

    There’s something profoundly disturbing seeing children cheering on the murder of another human being, even if he is President of the United States and even if the left has made it perfectly acceptable to contemplate murdering him. It reminds me of stories that circulated in the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination. According to William Manchester’s searing chronicle of the assassination Death of a President, there were several instances in Dallas schools where, upon hearing that the President was shot, children spontaneously applauded.

    The reason can be found in the Warren Report. When the Commission was discussing how much blame to place on the city of Dallas itself for the assassination, there were several members who believed they couldn’t be too harsh in their criticism. In the end, the Report downplayed the white hot atmosphere of hate and loathing against Kennedy that had been ginned up by Ted Dealy, owner of the Dallas News as well as the local John Birch Society that was made up of several prominent Dallas civic leaders. In fact, on the day of the assassination, Dealy’s paper ran a full page ad with a picture of Kennedy, front and side view as if looking at a mugshot, with the banner “Wanted For Treason” in bold, black letters across the top.

    The Commission found that there were dozens of instances of people in Dallas talking openly of assassinating Kennedy when he came to town or wishing that someone would. Texas Governor John Connally had heard the talk as well and begged the President not to go to Dallas. But some of the President’s aides saw Connally’s warnings as self serving. The reason for the Texas trip was to repair the schism in the Democratic party between Connally’s boys and the liberal wing of the Texas Democratic party headed up by Congressman Henry Gonzalez. Connally’s warnings were seen as an effort to stop the President from coming to Texas and foiling the Governor’s plans to kick the liberals into the corner, freezing them out of party leadership positions and influence.

    But Kennedy Derangement Syndrome was pretty much confined to Dallas and a few other cities in the south. What is clear from the reaction to Mrs. Williams ranting in Australia is that its successor, Bush hatred, has gone global. We shouldn’t be surprised by this given the planet-wide reach of mass media, the internet, satellite TV, and pop music (especially Hip-Hop) whose graphic images and language routinely threatens violence against the President and authority figures in general.

    It makes one wonder – how many similar demonstrations would there be by children the world over? In the United States?

    A proud day for the left. And God help liberals if something happens to our President before his term in office ends.
    source – http://rightwingnuthouse.com/archives/2006/07/24/bds-goes-global/

  • Harry Flashman

    I love the way the Chucks are getting stuck into the Peace People here, I suppose it’s nice that they are restricting themselves to online sneering unlike 1976 when they sent their provobot harridans out to kick the shite out of women who had the temerity to suggest that their Catholic fascist murder campaign should be ended.

    I well remember the lovely scenes as the provo-chicks smashed car windows and tore lumps of hair out of people calling for peace, Ghandhi would have been so proud, what was it they painted on the Falls Road? Oh, yes, “BETTY IS A BASTARD KILL HER”, well I suppose ciaron’s, SS’s and Ulick’s sneering is an advance on that, the troglodytes have improved their manners over three decades.


    The cheering in Dallas schools after Kennedy’s death? Sorry mate it’s a myth, a complete phoney, didn’t happen, check your sources.

  • Lest we forget, the Peace People was set up in the wake of an innocent young family being cruelly wiped out following a violent incident between the British Army and the IRA.

    Yet the criticism here is directed at the PP (those who were seeking to preserve life) rather than the British Army or provos (those who were foolhardy when it came to the lives of innocents). Does that not suggest an element of warped morality?

    Whatever the methods of organisation employed by the PP, or their goals, for a brief period normal people who simply wished to live in peace and not live with the shadowy thread of violent death hanging over their lives had a voice and an outlet.

    Whether covert or overt, or both, surely any efforts to highlight the futility of the violence is worthy of respect. It’s a damn sight better than just sitting back and quietly letting death and destruction ravage our communities.

  • * thread= threat

  • ulickmagee

    Harry …..

    Oh I’m hardly a chuck – Un/fortunately Camouflage clashes with my skin colour.

    I am a Catholic and a nationalist. I’m very proud of both! But maybe you can’t distinguish between both. It would appear that you classify everyone into one big bag of taigs.

    Cast your mind back Harry I know that may be difficult but remember the attack on the peace protestors crossing burntollet bridge. Hmmmm hold on that wasn’t the republican movement!

    Point is that it happens on both sides and yes it was wrong but it doesn’t get away from the point of this thread. Peace people by very definition were like scratch cards you hope that they will be something good but when you scratch it it reveals nothing. They didn’t deliever!

    But luckily for them the remaining few they have done very well out of it. What’s that I smell Human Rights commission.

    So Harry here’s one big online sneer to you……..

  • Garibaldy


    what do you expect the peace people to have been able to deliver? It was a single issue campaign which was not responsible for the violence it was trying to end

  • curious

    Ulick, if you aren’t a chuck, but you are Catholic and nationalist, does this mean you vote SDLP? If you don’t support the chucks, who do you support?

  • Keith M

    I don’t think that the role of the peace people should be underestimated. They did provide a channel for a huge section of the population (on both side of the divide) to vent their frustration with the terrorists and the wasteland they were creating.

    After the Warrington bomb, there were huge domonstrations in this country (one filled Dublin’s O’Connell Street) with like minded people saying “not in my name” and “enough is enough”. I’d like to think that they made some contribution to the terrorists finally realising how out of touch they were and that they were heading into a bottomless pit, oif they continued.

  • ulickmagee

    Curious – I support my rather demanding girlfriend

    Garibaldy – They marched for peace did they get it? Nope! They marched to end the Violence did they stop it, NO!

    So did they deliever our survey says NOOOOOO

    I maintain once again does Father Reid or the protestant clergymen and community representatives who worked selflessly for peace without a media profile not deserve a moment of thanks.

    Peace people and especially its leaders were on nothing more than an ego trip!

  • andy

    Harry F
    You may well be right on the Dallas schools thing, although on a separate but connected note I know of two different sources who were both in the same room as US military personnel (in Europe) when they got the news that JFL has been assasinated.Apparently the troops were overjoyed that their Supreme Commander had met an untimely end.

    Apologies for the virtual compelte irrelevence of the comment….

  • curious

    Ulick, I find it curious, as I have seen this before on internet fora, that someone as opinionated as yourself suddenly comes all coy and shy when asked to clarify what your political position is. What have you got to hide or feel ashamed of? You are certainly quite forthright about every other topic. If you are a proud Catholic nationalist, but you don’t support Sinn Fein or the SDLP, where is your political alliegence?

    This is not to play the man – Ulick has certainly put him/herself out there with their strong commentary. This is a seeking of clarification. We know what Ulick is against (pretty much everything), so what and who, Ulick, are you for?

  • But Ulick, it was not their job to ‘deliver’. They could never do that, as they were not the ones who bore arms. All they could do was influence a change in mindsets. Generally I am very wary of self-styled ‘do-gooders’- often they haven’t got much of a clue of real life whilst perched in their ivory towers (whether PP fits this category is a separate issue). However, the position of PP (and the other organisations and political parties who supported the need for peace during the troubles) was ultimately vindicated some two decdes later with advent of the ceasefires and the GFA. Whether they planted a seed of doubt in the heads of combatants which opened the path to this conclusion is open for debate, but certainly organisaing mass rallies against violence did no harm to the cause of peace.

  • i remember the peace people very well and i agree with ulick that recognition was never given to the real people. naturally those in the movement went on to teach and take positions in community organisations. what i know is this that we sought to change our society and we failed. the fault lies with personalities not the people.

  • Holdyn McGroyn

    just like most of the rest of the ridiculously pointless community and voluntary sector in norhtern ireland, a total waste of time and resources

  • Bushmills


    Presumably the McCartney’s are on an ego trip also?

  • Curious

    ‘This is not to play the man’

    Does Mr T know you raided his big book of quotations.

    I appreciate you aren’t trying to ‘Diss’ me but…

    Yes I’m opinionated and I’m perfectly entitled to be so. Are the rest of the comments on here not opinions too.

    Is your criticism levelled equally against those who don’t declare who they vote for. are you like the cat curious …..

    I’m a Catholic and a nationalist and that should be enough for you. When I feel you need to know more I’ll tell you!

    But to help you i quote groucho marx ‘i wouldn’t want to be part of any club that has me as a member’.

    Beyond that is it a Prerequisite on this website that i declare my politics to everyone. If yes then i ask should we take down the separators in polling booths and ask people to declare there then their allegiance.

    My comment is about the thread not the politics.
    Also curious you’re assuming that Im in Ireland

  • Elvis Parker

    ‘Danny will always be remembered as a proud Irish soldier.’
    Wrong he’s remembered as a terrorist who killed innocent children

  • Whatever happened to bob and terry

    unlikely lads we will ever know

    oh Ulick you’re my hero

  • aquifer

    Amazing. Some people really hate the Peace People.

    Crowds of people exposing a lack of popular support for violence must be a revolutionary adventurer’s worst nightmare.

  • realist

    “Despite the tragic circumstances surrounding the childrens’ deaths, Danny will always be remembered as a proud Irish soldier.”

    Danny was a murdering toerag who deserved the end he got. His colleagues continued their sectarian murder campaign for 18 years before being completely destroyed by the security forces and loyalist resistance. Have a nice day.

  • Harry Flashman,
    “The cheering in Dallas schools after Kennedy’s death” that was directly from http://rightwingnuthouse.com/archives/2006/07/24/bds-goes-global/ and I’m sure it would be hard for anyone to prove now if that did or didn’t happen.

    Ms Williams saying “Right now, I would love to kill George Bush” to an audience of kids seems to me that she’s loosing the plot. At least Gerry Andersons recent comments about Georgie Bush were aimed at a different audience.Is there anyone in or from the North likes Georgie Bush.

  • ciaran damery

    Realist and some other poster made derogatory comments about the Oglach who was shot dead when his car careered into the kids. Elvis actually blames him for the deaths of the kids, eventhough he died before the kids did. But whatever, Danny Lennon was a Volunteer who engaged the British occupier on several occasions before that tragic day. I am sure that danny knew that he risked death (having already done time) but his thirst for freedom was such that he rejoined the army when he was released from jail. But no words will ever change an orange man’s bigoted perspective. They have been blinded by their own sashes.

  • Patrique

    The Peace people, or those who attended the rallies, were mostly working class people from Falls Road, The Shankhill and Ardoyne, who were tired of people, mainly children, being killed. They didn’t actually care who killed them.

    Naturally a lot of socialist thinkers who had been at Burntollet Bridge, were also at the peace rallies. I remember carrying the Shankhill Road banner in London, and they were not middle class.I suppose you could classify me as middle class, because I was from Andersonstown.We were considered as snobs, until someone realised that you can’t arouse a down trodden people if they are not actually down trodden, and systematically wrecked Andersonstown, changed the name to Andytown as it sounded rougher.

    The peace people were great, showing great courage to stand against the Fascists, with 0.4% of the vote, who attacked them at every opportunity.

    I am not a nationalist, unlike Maggie Thatcher, Hitler, George Bush and Ulick, I am a republican. A European republic would be nice, getting away from all of this “I’m Irish/English/French/German” we are the master race type of nonsense. But you would need to have the vision of the peace people to understand that type of thinking.

    Incidently the violence decreased from 1976 for political and military reasons, unfortunately not because of the peace people. The Fascist propaganda machine proved to be too much for them.

  • ciaran damery

    The people who brought pace to Ireland and who continue to endevour to remove the gun from Irish politics are Oglaigh Na hEireann, an undefeated army that had the capacity to wage war against the Brits and their Unionist surrogate militias, ad infinitum. Men like Gerry Adams, father Alex Reid, John Hume and Albert Reynolds were able to persuade the Army that reunification could be achieved by applying the enormous effort required to fight the Brits to a stand still within the political arena. Oh and before any oraangies or uda crims talk about the IRA surrendering, may i suggesttht ya listen to your leader Paisley, who is on record as stating that the British Army surrendered to Oglaigh Na hEireann.