Sinn Féin priests
Support for Sinn Féin, the Dáil and local IRA units
in Freedom and the Fifth Commandment
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Republican priests came in many guises, and the most common type was the ‘Sinn Féin priest’, not the ‘IRA priest’. For most the transformation did not entail a shift to a revolutionary outlook. Instead, it meant changing their political point of view from the demand for home rule to the philosophy of Sinn Féin. This philosophy was the most acceptable aspect of republicanism for the clergy, and many priests moved quickly to gain a stake in it. For many of them, investing in the building up of the republican political movement became a way of exercising control over young men who otherwise might espouse ‘wild’ notions of fighting the British forces. Many clerics contrasted the work of Sinn Féin favourably with the activities of the IRA. But many local IRA units remained inactive and the patterns of clerical involvement with these that had been established in 1919 continued. This chapter looks at the support for the political aspect of the republican movement and for those sections of the IRA that did not become active in the guerrilla struggle.

Freedom and the Fifth Commandment

Catholic priests and political violence in Ireland, 1919-21

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