The Catholic Church and the Northern Ireland Troubles: A seminal book

Book review: Margaret Scull looks at the church’s role in the Troubles over 30 years

Cardinal Tomás Ó’Fíaich. Photograph: PA Wire

Cardinal Tomás Ó’Fíaich. Photograph: PA Wire

A viciously brilliant lampoon by the infamous Cummings from The Sunday Express of May 31st, 1981, which adorns the cover of this riveting and seminal book by a new young academic talent, says more about the Anglo-Saxon contempt for the Celts than the billions of words written about “The Troubles” over the past 50 years. Indeed, so devastating is this Cummings caricature of Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich, the prelate from south Armagh’s Cullyhanna who was demonised in the British media as the recruiting officer of the Provisional IRA, that there is a danger of national stereotypes being perpetuated for a new Brexit generation.

That the author, Margaret Scull, a Bostonian now at NUI Galway, sides sympathetically with the beleaguered Christian Soldiers on both sides of the Irish Sea against the crude sectarianism fomented so unscrupulously for decades of death and destruction by the Rev Ian Paisley, should immunise readers from returning to traditional trenches.

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