seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA


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Birth of Máiread Maguire, Northern Irish Peace Activist

mairead-maguireMáiread Maguire, née Máiread Corrigan, also called Máiread Corrigan Maguire, peace activist from Northern Ireland, is born in Belfast on January 27, 1944. Along with Betty Williams and Ciaran McKeown, she founds the Peace People, a grassroots movement of both Roman Catholic and Protestant citizens dedicated to ending the sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. For their work, Maguire and Williams share the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize.

Although Maguire from a young age earns her living as a secretary, she also is from her youth a member of the Legion of Mary, a lay Catholic welfare organization, and through it she becomes deeply involved in voluntary social work among children and teenagers in various Catholic neighbourhoods of Belfast. She is stirred to act against the growing violence in Northern Ireland after witnessing in August 1976 an incident in which a car being driven by an Irish Republican Army (IRA) terrorist goes out of control when the IRA man is shot by British troops. The car strikes and kills three children of Maguire’s sister.

Within days each woman publicly denounces the violence and calls for mass opposition to it. Marches of Catholic and Protestant women, numbering in the thousands, are organized, and shortly afterward the Peace People is founded based on the conviction that genuine reconciliation and prevention of future violence are possible, primarily through the integration of schools, residential areas, and athletic clubs. The organization publishes a biweekly paper, Peace by Peace, and provides a bus service to and from Belfast’s jails for families of prisoners.

Although Williams breaks away from the Peace People in 1980, Maguire remains an active member and later serves as the group’s honorary president. In 2006 she joins Williams and fellow Nobel Peace Prize winners Shirin Ebadi, Jody Williams, Wangari Maathai, and Rigoberta Menchú to found the Nobel Women’s Initiative. She is also active in various Palestinian causes, notably efforts to end the Israeli government’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, and she is deported from Israel on several occasions.

In October 2012, Maguire travels to New York City to serve on the Russell Tribunal on Israel/Palestine alongside writer Alice Walker, activist Angela Davis, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters. The Russell Tribunal’s findings and conclusions challenge governments and civil society to have courage and act by implementing sanctions, thereby refusing to be silent and complicit in the face of Israel ’s violation of International Laws.

In March 2018, Maguire and two Nobel peace laureates, Shirin Ebadi and Tawakkol Karman, visit rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar and share opinion on the crisis. After returning to Dhaka they discuss the Rohingya crisis with members of the civil society of Bangladesh.

Maguire is a proponent of the belief that violence is a disease that humans develop but are not born with. She believes humankind is moving away from a mindset of violence and war and evolving to a higher consciousness of nonviolence and love. Among the figures she considers spiritual prophets in this regard are Jesus, Francis of Assisi, Mahatma Gandhi, Abdul Ghaffār Khān, Fr. John L. McKenzie, and Martin Luther King, Jr. She professes to reject violence in all its forms.

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Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy

Robert F. Kennedy, Irish-American, United Statesrobert-f-kennedy Senator, Democratic presidential candidate, and brother of assassinated President John F. Kennedy, dies on June 6, 1968 in Los Angeles, California after being shot in the early morning hours of June 5.

After winning the California and South Dakota primary elections for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States and speaking to supporters in a ballroom at the Ambassador Hotel, Kennedy walks through the kitchen area frequently shaking hands with those he encounters. Kennedy starts down a passageway narrowed by an ice machine against the right wall and a steam table to the left. He turns to his left and shakes hands with busboy Juan Romero just as Sirhan Sirhan, a 24-year-old Palestinian/Jordanian immigrant, steps down from a low tray-stacker beside the ice machine and repeatedly fires what is later identified as a .22 caliber Iver-Johnson Cadet revolver.

After Kennedy had falls to the floor, former FBI agent William Barry sees Sirhan holding a gun and hits him twice in the face while others force Sirhan against the steam table and disarmed him as he continues firing his gun in random directions. Five other people are also wounded.

Kennedy is transferred several blocks to Good Samaritan Hospital for surgery. Surgery begins at 3:12 AM PDT and lasts three hours and 40 minutes. Despite extensive neurosurgery to remove bullet and bone fragments from his brain, his condition remains extremely critical until he dies at 1:44 AM PDT on June 6, nearly 26 hours after the shooting.

Sirhan pleads guilty on April 17, 1969, and is sentenced to death. The sentence is commuted to life in prison in 1972 after the California Supreme Court, in its decision in California v. Anderson, invalidates all pending death sentences imposed in California prior to 1972. Since that time, Sirhan has been denied parole fifteen times and is currently confined at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in southern San Diego County.

Kennedy’s body lay in repose at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City for two days before a funeral Mass is held on June 8. His body is interred near his brother at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. His death prompts the protection of presidential candidates by the United States Secret Service. Hubert Humphrey later goes on to win the Democratic nomination for the presidency, but ultimately loses the election to Republican Richard Nixon.

As with his brother’s death, Kennedy’s assassination and the circumstances surrounding it have spawned a variety of conspiracy theories. Kennedy remains one of only two sitting United States Senators to be assassinated, the other being Huey Long.