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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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Priest and Victim: British Measures Against the Clergy

Priest and Victim: British Measures Against the Clergy

(p.179) 7 Priest and Victim: British Measures Against the Clergy
Freedom and the Fifth Commandment

Brian Heffernan

Manchester University Press

The old RIC’s traditional rapport with the parish clergy became increasingly strained in 1920 as normal relations between the constabulary and society broke down. Moreover, the newly-arrived Black and Tans and Auxiliaries widely believed that Irish priests were agitating against them. As a result, the crown forces increasingly turned their attention to ecclesiastical persons and buildings. From the spring of 1920 onwards, there were reports of priests being harassed, intimidated and even tortured. This was eventually followed in November by the killing of a priest in Galway. Many clerics regarded this as the crossing of a line which the crown forces had hitherto respected. Clerical attention turned decisively to criticism of the crown forces. British measures against the clergy were quickly portrayed in sermons and newspapers as a persecution campaign, and this chapter examines whether this image was justified. It also emphasises the crucial role of publicity as a factor in its own right.

Keywords:   anti-Catholic violence, Black and Tans, Father Griffin, intimidation, murder, persecution, publicity, raids

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