The growing tension between the Protestant and Catholic communities in the 1970s and the rising violence by both republican and loyalist paramilitary groups led to a number of attempts to halt the violence and promote reconciliation, for example Witness for Peace created by a Protestant clergyman in 1972, and Women Together founded in 1970 to stop stone throwing and gang fights. But the most publicized and controversial campaign against violence was that of the Peace People, founded in 1976 after three young children were killed by a runaway IRA car whose driver had been shot by the army. Two women initiated the movement, Protestant Betty Williams, who saw the tragedy, and Catholic Mairead Corrigan, the children’s aunt. The Peace People brought 10,000 and then 20,000 out onto the streets in Belfast in August, and 25,000 in Derry in September to demand an end to paramilitary violence. These demonstrations were followed by rallies and public events in more than a dozen towns and cities in Northern Ireland, the Irish Republic and Britain. By November 1976 the Peace People had over 80 local groups, offices in both Belfast and Derry and its own paper, Peace by Peace. The movement was criticized, especially by Provisional Sinn Fein, for its initial failure to condemn violence by the British Army and the Protestant-dominated RUC, and attacked by the militant Protestant leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, Ian Paisley, as a Catholic front. Over time, under the influence of the third key figure in the movement, former journalist Ciaran McKeown, the Peace People turned to long-term community organizing. See its website: http://www.peacepeople.com.
Two periodicals which ran articles on the Peace People from a nonviolent perspective are Peace News (London) and the monthly Dawn (published by a collective from Belfast, Derry and Dublin). In the latter, see especially issues no. 25 (November 1976), the editorial on the Peace People leadership in no. 26 (Christmas 1976), and the analysis of Peace People strategy in nos. 27 and 28 (January and February 1977). Dawn also published a combined issue, ‘Nonviolence in Irish History’, no. 38-39, (April-May 1978), which traced nonviolence in Ireland back to the arrival of the Quakers in the 17th century, through the campaign of Daniel O’Connell for Catholic Emancipation, the Land League agitation in the 19th century and nonviolent elements in the national and labour movements (late 19th and early 20th centuries) to the Peace People.