TWO Durham University students are to be recognised for organising a mass peace campaign in Northern Ireland by becoming the first ever recipients of national awards.
Northern Ireland justice minister David Ford last night presented the awards to music student Enya Doyle and law student Lauren Sloan, who set up a cross-community peace movement based around a Celtic music ensemble called Not in My Name.
The group formed three years ago in response to the murder in March 2009 of Constable Steve Carroll, who was murdered by republican dissidents.
At the age of 15, Enya, from Lurgan, Northern Ireland, set up Not in My Name while at school and then together with Lauren, then aged 16, from Banbridge, Northern Ireland, they campaigned for peace throughout their studies at school and university.
The group also inspired a mass protest movement following the murder of Constable Ronan Kerr, in 2011, when tens of thousands of people attended a rally for peace and held up placards saying Not in my Name, calling for an end to violence.
Lauren, assisted by Enya, set up a social media campaign, lobbying for equality of sentencing in murder trials, following the sentencing in May 2012 of the killers of Steve Carroll.
The Steve Carroll Foundation was officially launched at Parliament Buildings, Stormont, by his widow, Kate, yesterday, and Enya and Lauren are both recipients of the Foundation’s inaugural award scheme.
Constable Carroll, aged 48, was shot dead while on duty in Craigavon, County Armagh, on March 9, 2009, by the Continuity IRA. Two men are serving jail terms for his murder.
The new foundation has created a set of annual national peace awards and Lauren has been given the Northern Ireland Youth for Justice Campaigner Prize. Enya received the Northern Ireland Young Peacemaker of the Year award.
Lauren, who works part-time in a pub in Durham to supplement her income while studying, said she was too young to remember the height of The Troubles, but added: “It is a determination not to go back to those terrible days, which my parents have told me about, which spurs me on. The murder of Constable Carroll really shook me, because it threatened to herald a return to those dark days.
“But coming to study in Durham I was amazed how little people of my age know about Northern Ireland.
“It was also refreshing to come to a place where you are not pigeon-holed by the school you went to or the part of town where you lived. Nobody asks you what religion you are.
“After meeting students in Durham from all over the world, and from all religions the disputes in Northern Ireland seem rather petty. But the protests we are seeing over the flying of the Union flag on Belfast City Hall shows how easily violence can escalate at home. In Durham you don’t see the Union Jack flying everywhere but people here are confident of their Britishness, they don’t need a flag to prove it.”
Lauren, who is studying law to equip her to campaign for human rights, added: “The launch of the Steve Carroll Foundation fills me with hope, as it provides a platform for discussion, peaceful resolution, and most importantly, recognition for young people who don’t want to resort to the ways of the past. “
RIGHTS Enya Doyle, Kate Carroll and Lauren Sloan