President's Prize for Crossmaglen

President's Prize for Crossmaglen

A faith-based community worker from South Armagh has dedicated a prize from former US President Bill Clinton to the people of Crossmaglen.

Ian Bothwell and his wife Pauline have just been awarded the President’s Prize in conjunction with Liam Maskey – brother of Belfast Mayor Alex - for grassroots cross-community work.

“I want to dedicate this honour to the people of Crossmaglen,” said Ian. “And I simply want to carry on with my work, letting people know that I’m here for anyone who wants to help build community with a fuller, deeper way of life that deals with fear and the legacy of pain.”

Ian has been working in south Armagh since his early twenties, when as a young theology graduate he saw a documentary on television about Crossmaglen.

Pondering his future, he said, “I saw such hopelessness and confusion and realised God’s love could make a difference.”

Starting out with a fifth hand-mini, he and his wife Pauline built the non-denominational, ‘Crossfire Trust’ through the support of likeminded individuals across the globe, including many people from both sides of the border.

With a mill-house base in Darkley and a multi-coloured outreach bus, the Bothwells and a dedicated team take resources on the scale of ‘a few loaves and fishes’ and operate a homeless refuge, budget clothing service, addiction counselling and countless other acts of secret kindness.

At the special Stormont reception for Liam Maskey and Ian, Alex Maskey said of him, “Ian seems to be a very sincere Christian who speaks straight from the heart.” Special US Envoy Richard Haas read a nomination outlining how Ian often welcomes callers in need at 3am written by Democrat reporter Philip Bradfield.

Cross resident Mark McQuade said, “I have known Ian for 22 years. He is a committed peacemaker who reaches out to all sections of the community.”
Another resident, Mary McKeever, said, “Ian and Pauline put a lot into this area and really deserve this prize.” Keady councillor Brian Cunnigham was one of the first to ring Ian to congratulate him with the words, “No better man, Ian. Congratulations.”

Previous winners of the prize have had a reception in the White House Oval Office.

Newry Democrat