Irish human rights defender Mgr Denis Faul dies

Fearless Irish priest, Mgr Denis Faul, a critic of both the British government and the IRA, died yesterday after a long battle with cancer.

According to Ireland Online, Mgr Faul, who was a leading light in attempts to end "the Troubles" - Northern Ireland's 35 years of sectarian violence - died at a Dublin hospital at the age of 74.

Mgr Faul first rose to prominence when he marched with the civil rights movement in 1968, which was demanding equality for Catholics in Northern Ireland.

He protested against human rights abuses by the British army and Royal Ulster Constabulary in the 1970s but also spoke out strongly against republican and loyalist paramilitary violence.

Mgr Faul intervened in the republican H-Block hunger strikes 25 years ago in a bid to save the lives of some of the 10 men who died in the Maze Prison.

He also campaigned tirelessly for the release of the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four who had been wrongly imprisoned in Britain for the bomb attacks before their cases became high-profile.

Archbishop Sean Brady said he "stood up for what he believed in, for the distraught" regardless of background.

"With valour and hope he unstintingly gave his advice, assistance and support, never counting the cost or risk to himself," the Catholic Primate of Ireland said.

"He realised clearly that justice is not a casual by-product of peace, but something anterior and fundamental to any lasting peace. His whole life was an eloquent testimony that justice requires consistent courage, and that peace must be underpinned by morality at all times."

Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein leader, said Mgr Faul played a pivotal role in the 1970s and 1980s.

"Although Irish republicans and Fr Faul seriously differed, particularly around the 1981 hunger strike, he nonetheless played a pivotal role in the 1970s and 80s in highlighting human rights abuses by the British state."

NI: Human rights campaigner Denis Faul dies (Ireland Online, 21/6/06)
Outspoken priest Faul dies at 75 (BBC News, 21/6/06)
Reaction to Monsignor Faul's death (BBC News, 21/6/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Extracts from 'The British Dimension - Brutality, Murder and Legal Duplicity in Northern Ireland' by Fr. D. Faul and Fr. R. Murray ((Conflict Archive on the Internet)
Violence and negotiations (BBC History, War and Conflict)

Catholics urged to join NI police (BBC News, 24/11/00)
IRA urged to locate bodies (BBC News, 28/8/03)

22 Jun 2006