Priest and victim
British measures against the clergy
in Freedom and the Fifth Commandment
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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.

Freedom and the Fifth Commandment

Catholic priests and political violence in Ireland, 1919-21


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