Aiding and abetting
Priests involved in the IRA campaign
in Freedom and the Fifth Commandment
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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.

Freedom and the Fifth Commandment

Catholic priests and political violence in Ireland, 1919-21


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