THE Ulster Peace Women have become the Peace People. At a Press conference held at the Irish Club in London, its three leaders — Mrs Betty Williams, Miss Mairaed Corrigan and Mr Ciaran McKeown — described their plans for making Northern Ireland lead the world in peacemaking rather than guerrilla warfare.
Miss Corrigan said: "The Irish people are not all fighters." She pointed to the hunger for peace on both sides of sectarian divide which had given people the courage to support the peace movement.
The programme of rallies in various Northern Ireland centres, and Dublin and Liverpool, had been a great success. Sceptics who saw the movement as an emotional nine-day wonder would probably be forced to eat their words again when the first international rally was held on November 27 in Trafalgar Square.
There are no firm estimates on the number of people likely to attend. A month ago the police were making provision for 8,000. Now they are planning for 30,000.
Planes have been chartered from America, Denmark, Sweden, West Germany, Holland and Norway. Every available seat has been booked on the ferry services from Northern Ireland.
There will be special trains from Newcastle, Leeds and Liverpool, and hired coaches from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Manchester.
Cardinal Hume, Archbishop of West minster; Dr Donald Coggan, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Dr John Huxtable, the Chief Moderator of the Free Churches, have all accepted invitations to join the rally. Lord Longford, who arranged the Press conference, will also be on the platform, He said he would be representing "grandfather power".
Joan Baez, the American folk singer and prominent pacifist, will fly over to England to sing at the rally. Mrs Jane Ewart-Biggs, the widow of Sir Christopher Ewart-Biggs, the British Ambassador to Ireland who was assassinated by terrorists, will also be present.
At the Press conference, she explained her support of the Peace Movement. "It is the continuation of what Christopher wanted to achieve in Ireland," she said, The Peace People will provide their own stewards for the march from Hyde Park Corner to Trafalgar Square. They are unworried by the rumours of counterdemonstrations, and plan to take no special security measures. Mrs Williams said that people would have to have the courage of their convictions if they wanted to root out bigotry. The movement is concerned with more than rallies. It is considering 14 community peace projects and has already opened a hostel for battered wives.
When the People's Peace Prize, valued at about £90,000, is presented to Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan in Oslo at the end of the month, they will be able to start on a scheme to provide a children's recreation centre on the peace line in Belfast.