I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my dear friend, Inez McCormack. For decades, Inez promoted peace and reconciliation in her beloved Northern Ireland and around the world. She challenged women and men to find a way to put aside their differences, move past hurt and anger, and work together to end violence and build a fair and lasting peace. It was a tremendous challenge, but Inez met it with joy.
Inez used to say that true leadership isn’t a final destination. It’s a process. And it starts with the simple act of stepping up when the opportunity arises. From her early days as a community organizer and trade union leader, she stepped up again and again — always with her trademark smile.
When sectarian conflict was tearing Northern Ireland apart, she brought a diverse group together to find a way toward peace. She also understood that it wasn’t just about stopping the killing; it was about supporting the living. So once the Good Friday Agreement was signed, she stayed to help mend communities.
People called her a hero. She’d say, "I’m just a crazy woman who thinks Catholics are the same as Protestants."
Until her final days, she never stopped promoting peace, human rights and equality. She traveled the world encouraging young women to be agents of change in their communities and countries.
I recently visited Northern Ireland and saw the legacy of her work. There is more we must do to build lasting peace and prosperity in communities, but we have come so far in part because of her insistence on a seat at the table for women and others who have been marginalized.
Of all her accomplishments, her daughter and grandchildren made her proudest. My thoughts and prayers go out to her husband Vinny, daughter Anne, son-in-law Mark, granddaughter Maisie, grandson Jamie, the people of Northern Ireland and all those who are better off because of her. Let us recommit ourselves to her vision of a just and equal society, and honor her legacy by joining together in common cause.