Trevor Ringland: We should commit to the values of the Peace People, who won the argument against violence

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

In the values they promoted when they first formed in 1976 the Peace People were right then for our society just as those same principles are right now.

The consistency of their position stands in direct contrast to some of the political ideologies being promoted by others over the last 40 years and where they now find themselves.

In particular they won the argument that violence was never going to solve the problems of this island and never will.

Their clear message was simply the building of relationships through friendship would promote an island at peace with itself whatever the constitutional arrangements.

It was the death of the Maguire children, Joanne (8), Andrew (6 Weeks) and John (2) that led to the formation of the Peace People.

Also killed in that incident was a young IRA man, Danny Lennon.

One of the untold stories of our “Troubles” was that on the anniversary of his death, Anne Maguire, the mother of the Maguire children, visited the mother of that young IRA man to express her sympathies at her loss recognising that she had also lost her child.

Too often in our past we failed our children but we have a real opportunity to bed down the increasingly peaceful and stable society we now enjoy.

However it will require constant vigilance and work and is something we should never take for granted.

Ultimately one of the tragic consequences of that terrible day was that Anne Maguire could not live with the pain of her loss and she eventually took her own life.

It reminds us of the impact on ordinary lives of the use of violence.

In memory of her we should commit to the principles promoted by the Peace People and to strive harder to build a genuinely peaceful and stable society as our tribute to the victims of the Troubles.

In that regard it is the story of Anne Maguire and her family we should be emphasising to our young people rather than the story of others that are too often promoted instead.

Trevor Ringland, Holywood, Co Down