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Freedom and the Fifth CommandmentCatholic priests and political violence in Ireland, 1919-21$
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Brian Heffernan

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780719090486

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719090486.001.0001

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Aiding and Abetting: Priests Involved in The IRA Campaign

Aiding and Abetting: Priests Involved in The IRA Campaign

(p.122) 5 Aiding and Abetting: Priests Involved in The IRA Campaign
Freedom and the Fifth Commandment

Brian Heffernan

Manchester University Press

As Volunteers on the run began to form flying columns from the spring of 1920 onwards and as the British government started to deploy Black and Tans and Auxiliaries to aid the hard-pressed RIC, violence escalated in certain parts of the country. For priests in areas where local Volunteers remained impervious to this process of radicalisation, things remained much the same. But in regions where Volunteers became guerrilla fighters, priests were faced with a dilemma. Most distanced themselves from the fighting men and condemned violence: until the end of 1920 condemnations rose as the levels of violence increased. This chapter examines priests who threw their lot in with the radicals and gave support to the IRA campaign. Some of these provided material aid by giving shelter, concealing arms or by informing on the enemy. Others gave spiritual aid by ministering to men on the run. The chapter offers an assessment of the political significance of these acts of spiritual assistance.

Keywords:   chaplains, confession, flying columns, funerals, gun running, last rites, republican priests, safe houses, spies and informers

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