Belfast Telegraph

Peace People founder Ciaran McKeown dead at 76

Ciaran McKeown. Credit: Pacemaker
Ciaran McKeown. Credit: Pacemaker

One of the founding members of Northern Ireland's Peace People, Ciaran McKeown, has died aged 76.

Mr McKeown died peacefully at home on Sunday after an illness.

He founded the Peace People alongside Mairead Corrigan and Betty Williams after Ms Corrigan's sister Anne Maguire lost three children when fatally wounded IRA man Danny Lennon crashed into them in 1976.

Eight-year-old Joanne, two-and-a-half-year-old John and six-week-old Andrew were all killed in the incident.

Ms Maguire was also injured in the crash and took her own life a few years later. Her seven-year-old son Mark survived the incident.

After the deaths, Ms Corrigan made a television appeal for peace.

In the days that followed prayer vigils were held and people protested calling for an end to violence in Northern Ireland.

At the time of the deaths Mr McKeown was working as the Northern Ireland correspondent for the Dublin-based Irish Press group and as editor of Fortnight Magazine.

After meeting Ms Corrigan and Mrs Williams during a television appearance, the trio founded the Peace People with Mr McKeown coming up with the group's name, declaration and rally programme.

Thousands of people took part in pro-peace marches organised by the group throughout Northern Ireland.

A Peace People March
A Peace People March

The group also held a high-profile rally in London's Trafalgar Square.

Mairead Corrigan and Betty Williams were awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1976. 

Mr McKeown and Mrs Williams later left the group in the 1980s after internal disputes.

He later returned to work as a journalist for the Irish News, the News Letter and the Daily Mirror.

Mr McKeown was predeceased by his wife Marianne and leaves behind seven children.

His funeral will be held at the Good Shepherd Church on Ormeau Road on Thursday morning at 10am followed by cremation at Roselawn.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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