Denis Faul dies…

ONE of the most prominent figures of the Troubles, Mgr Denis Faul, has died. He was involved in the civil rights campaign, made an intervention in the hunger strike protest, criticised loyalist and republican violence and campaigned for victims of injustice, such as the Birmingham Six.

  • Jacko

    A good, courageous and sincere man. I knew him well and liked and respected him immensely. I’m deeply saddened. He is a big loss to this society, without a shadow of doubt.

  • R.I.P.

  • Triumph of the desperately ill

    One of the good guys.



    I should have changed my name back, that last post was of course, my good self.

  • Turbo Paul

    In the darkest days of conflict, figures emerge that hold a beacon of light, hope is restored, history remembers well the real heroes of conflict.

    Denis Faul was one such figure that emerged out of Irelands darkness.


  • Rory

    Deeply saddened by the news. He was indeed truly a man for all seasons.

  • Maura

    A True Irishman, in every sense of the word, who will be greatly missed. He attended to the sick and dying like no other priest. He was a soft-spoken giant of a man with an intelligence rarely matched.
    May He Rest in Peace.

  • Miss Fitz

    Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

  • Mick Fealty

    Religious or not, he never forgot where he put his moral compass. His last interview with Gerry Moriarty came under the heading ‘Fighting for the future”, and is well worth revisiting:

    He had a burst appendix, unusual these days, but caused by the growth of a three-year-old undiagnosed cancerous tumour. He should have had more regular check-ups, he knows. Too busy. Not sensible for a priest who comes from a family of doctors, whose father was the GP in his native Co Louth; yet not surprising knowing the man.


    In Enniskillen hospital in October he asked the nurse at 8pm what was on the medical agenda. You’re going under the knife at 11pm, she told him. “Get me a priest quick, I told her,” he says, laughing. “I got confession, kept the priest for hours with all I had to tell him, and sure I didn’t give a damn after that.”


    When he finally shuffles off to the hereafter he has his pitch ready for Saint Peter: “I hope I could say I helped the poor people when they were in trouble, that I gave them money and help, that I got them to England when they had to get away, that I helped the prisoners.

    “It’s important to bear witness,” he adds. “The quality Irish people most admire is courage, and not just physical courage but moral courage as well; that you can stand up, speak your mind, even though you’re getting lambasted from all sides. You have to stand up.”

  • Comrade Stalin

    Sorry to hear about the passage of a good man. RIP.

  • harpo

    ‘A True Irishman, in every sense of the word’

    What does that mean?

    What are these various senses of the word and how did he meet the criteria set by each of them? How many official senses of the word are there as a starting point?

    We often see the biggest load of nonsense stated when people die. Meaningless cliches for the most part. I see you are right into it.

    Do you ever hear of people saying ‘a true Irishman, in senses 1 and 7 of the word, but not in senses 2 to 6’ when someone dies?

  • harpo

    I wonder what the Provos and Irish Republicans (2 mutually exclusive groups there) are going to say about him now that he is dead?

  • Pete Baker

    Worth noting, I think, the comments by Archbishop Sean Brady on Mgr Denis Faul and his life, echoing what he himself expressed in the IT interview:

    “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.”

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘I wonder what the Provos and Irish Republicans (2 mutually exclusive groups there) are going to say about him now that he is dead?’

    Some people never miss an opportunity.

  • harpo

    “His whole life was an eloquent testimony that justice requires consistent courage, and that peace must be underpinned by morality at all times.”

    No kidding.

    Yet how many ‘nationalists’ will condemn him, and heap continual praise on losers like Bobby Sands who decided that courage and justice involved bombing furniture stores and then killing themselves?

    That’s the difference between men with genuine morals like Faul, and those who praise the supposed morals of the Provo and Irish Republican organizations. The latter have no morals. All they have is a ‘win at all costs and forget morality’ mentality.

  • Ingram

    A genuine man who had vision and integrity.RIP society is at a loss for your departure.


  • Peter Bowles

    Saddened to hear of Mgr Faul’s passing and agree with the comments above, an immense individual.

  • harpo

    ‘Some people never miss an opportunity.’



    Have you run out of opinions all of a sudden, or are you just being coy?

    I don’t recall you ever saying so little and ignoring the subject at hand.

    I was just waiting for a stream of abuse from Provos and IRs. Since they directed abuse at the man throughout his life.

    Or are you all going to invoke that odd ‘don’t speak ill of the dead’ thing that is selectively employed when it suits you?

  • Harpo

    This isn’t Debate Central. Please quit trolling – I know you are cos you just admitted it!

  • elfinto

    A giant of a man. RIP.

  • bertie


    A decent man.

  • Brenda

    Very sad to hear this news. A sincere and decent human being.


  • harpo


    ‘Don’t you think that it’s a reasonable question as to what the Provos and IRs will say? Given that they were bashing the man as recently as earlier this year.

    Sorry if I missed it, but if the purpose of this thread was simply a glee club for everyone to add positive thoughts about Father Faul why didn’t someone say so?

    I’d say that when someone dies one of the most interesting things about the situation is what people say about the individual. I doubt that when Margaret Thatcher dies it’s going to be a glee club on here paying tribute to her wonderful qualities.

    I’d say the Provos and IRs will be keeping quiet here as this is one of those occasions when it doesn’t pay to have a go at the dead. Some of their constituency might get upset if they go to far in condemning him.

  • Mick Fealty


    I for one are happy for you to be here. But I really think you need to pose your questions and then give others the opportunity to answer them. For instance:

    What are these various senses of the word and how did he meet the criteria set by each of them? How many official senses of the word are there as a starting point?

  • loyalist

    Defending the felon again Gonzo? Beggorrah it’s a great and noble man you are to be sure, to be sure. Grow up you pillock.

  • lillybill

    May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.

    I bet there’s one big welcome party in paradise tonight!

  • I read the UTV piece and noted the DUP expressiing sympathy and that SFIRA were not mentioned. However, Gerry Adamns gets his spoke in here where he hitches Des Wilson on to the list of turbulent priests. Now that seems opportunitistic to me. Still, as Geryr loves a funeral and has caused many of them, he will probably make it to the funeral.

    Tommy McKearney makes a more honest assessment. Not hard to be more honest that Gerry I suppose.

  • harpo

    ‘But I really think you need to pose your questions and then give others the opportunity to answer them.’

    Isn’t that what I did?

  • Mick Fealty

    Nope, you answered it yourself straightaway (since removed).

  • harpo

    ‘However, Gerry Adamns gets his spoke in here where he hitches Des Wilson on to the list of turbulent priests. Now that seems opportunitistic to me. Still, as Geryr loves a funeral and has caused many of them, he will probably make it to the funeral.’

    Not much in the way of sympathy from Gerry in that. If that is his full statement it’s just a statement of fact, and selective fact at that. He only point out the bits of Faul’s activities that met with Gerry’s approval – the parts that involved having a go at the Brits.

    No statement as to the character of the man, or his legacy. Just a few selective facts.

    As I said before Gerry is steering well clear of any judgement on this one. He can’t win. If he praises Faul he will piss off Provos and IRs and if he condens him he will piss off more moderate nationalists. so he says nothing.

  • harpo

    ‘Nope, you answered it yourself straightaway (since removed).’


    I responded to Pat’s post in response to mine. Isn’t that allowed?

    He responds to me and I respond to him.

  • JAY119

    Harpo, there are some people who even their enemies concede are great men. Whoever Denis Faul had differences with, whether the British government, the unionists or the PIRA and their associates, he was recognised as an honest and honourable man. The world will be the worse for lacking the likes of him.

  • Henry94

    Can I be the first to demand that Ian Paisley attends the funeral?

  • Jack: The 1981 hunger strike was a load of bollox. After McCreesh and O’Hara died, the hunger strike was going nowhere. In this piece, the O’Rawe stuff is again raised. Now, let’s consider the situation on the ground: after Sands died, and the South Armagh IRA blew up 4 soldiers, and someone, not Martin Ferris, burned a few Kerry holiday homes, what was happening? Very little: people were waving black flags in an attempt to morally bribe everyone else in jumping on board the H Block bandwagon. The summer dragged on and all SFIRA could do is march to the British Embassy and instigate a riot.
    There used to be an old rebel song about “The Felon’s cap”. Was the unrepentent O’Donovan Rossa wrong for wearing one? (Of course Martin and Gerry never had to wear one)
    What good would the death of Lawrence McKeown, now a SF big wig, have done? What would have happened if 5, 10, 15 more died on hunger strike?
    As regards MI5: it seems to be agreed here that Denis, Scap and many others took the Saxon shilling, so forget that shit. Faul was a man of principles – his principles, not yours or mine. What principles has Martin Gilespie McGuinness or Gerry GFA Bloody Friday got? When precisely did Martin decide not sending them home in boxes was a good idea and touts should not be shot? If a Bogside babe dates a British soldier, does she stil qualify for some free tar and feathers? Flip glop they call it in America.

    Oh. If you are still there, do you regard the RIRA prsoners as political or as ODCs. I bet you Faull was in touch with their families, and not with a baseball bat either, a la PIRA. Consistent. Just like the late Sr Sarah Clarke who deserves a mention in dispatches.

  • Pat Mc Larnon


    there you go ‘Jack’ has suddenly appeared as has given the response you invited.

    As for Denis Faul himself. I met him on a few occasions. He was, as has been stated elsewhere a Catholic priest of the old school, strong on constitutional nationalism and even stronger on Catholic doctrine .
    I, like Tommy Mc Kearney, prefer to analyse the interventions he made on human rights issues in the round and not in the main of how he was trotted out by elements of the media as someone who could be depended upon to put the boot into republicans.
    You specifically asked the response of republicans, well many who knew him still speak highly of his interventions on behalf of families while it was not popular or encouraged by the hierarchy to do so.
    Fr Faul will be forever linked to the Hunger Strike, his own part in that is well documented and needs little comment from the likes of me.


    Denis Faul: Obituary in The Guardian. Something for everyone.


    The hard line BBC collates what the papers are saying. (BBC is being attacked by Fox News for being soft on “terrorism”). The Daily Ireland quote is good for a chuckle.land58

  • elfinto

    I thought the Guardian piece was a bit unkind. Fr Faul was a bit rectionary in his Catholicism but having a positive belief in the principles of Catholic education is not the same as being pro-segregation. Fr Faul was one of the few to draw attention to the brutality of the British occupation during the dark days of the 1970s and was vilified as a Provo priest as a result. For his human rights work alone he deserves immense credit.

  • Greenflag

    Fr Faul was a good man and a traditional RC priest of the old school . Unlike 99% of RC priests Fr Faul spoke out against injustice wherever he saw it . He would have become a bishop had he kept his mouth shut.

    No matter whether people are RC or Protestant or of no religion I believe most people will mourn the passing of this brave man.

  • Pat Mc Larnon


    like all such quotes it is taken out of context, the next paragraph from the DI editorial states,

    ‘It would be a shame if the republican family as a whole was to remember his controversial role in the ending of the humger strikes as his only legacy’. Indeed.

  • Nevin

    Stop these fascist bullies – Denis Faul (1999)

    These comments by Faul can be extended to include loyalist godfathers. Sadly, Faul’s observations have been and will continue to be ignored by those who seek to accommodate paramilitary demands at the expense of past, current and future victims.

  • seanniee

    He talked a lot of rubbish a lot of the time.As long as his agenda was anti republican he got lots of airtime.He was also intolerant of mixed education, so please do not forget that.

  • Yokel

    One of my mates in Dungannon said he was a ballsy old customer in the pox on all yer houses mould.

    Sounded like an alright one to me…

  • heres hoping

    An interesting question was posed to former Bishop of Derry Edward Daly this morning, he was asked how did the hierarchy of the catholic church view him. Bishop Daly was slightly coy with his response, he said that he spoke to him at times for advice but that Cardinal Conway was more distant in his opinions. Its interesting that Father Faul never made bishop.

    As a republican I never always agreed with him but one thing we can all say is that he spoke his mind and was challenging. In latter years I would agree with Tommy Mc Kearney he allowed himself to be used by the anti republican media.

  • Mick Fealty


    That may or may not explain why he latterly got the airtime, (formerly he got just as much for high lighting human rights abuses by the British), but you don’t explain why you think he talked rubbish?

  • mickhall

    I hope Father Fall has finally got to the heaven he so desired, may his soul rest in peace.

    Although I do find it strange how people react to religious beliefs, people find nothing foolish or irrational for a grown man looking forward to having a chat with St Peter, whilst they are outraged when a young man proclaims he is off to paradise to molest countless virgins, believing the youngster has been conned by evil minds to believe in such rubbish.

    No it seems to me Denis looks forward to a chat with St Peter because he was an intellectual, who liked nothing better than a good debate. Whilst the young man is just that, and as is the way with men of his age, he is as horny as hell.

    For me they both are reflecting their own wishes onto their paradise/heaven and they are able to do this as both believe in fairy tales. I have no objection to this for it is the way of the world, but when assessing a man’s character, I find it strange that few raise the fact that both the young man and Fr Fall believed as fact something they were unable to prove,

    if they had done so on any other subject bar on an established and dominant religion, they would be regarded as cranks and judged accordingly and if not outrightly condemned the word eccentric would have appeared somewhere I’m sure.

    Funny old world, eh.

  • seanniee

    “He beleved in the supremacy of the law above all else”.It proves my point about talking rubbish.
    Because law made by men and held up as gospel can be undone by another group of men.

  • Jo

    I havent written on this before because I foolishly had thought there would be unequivocal praise for a man of principle, but seeing as men of no principle are lauded in this land, I suppose I was somewhat naive.

    I heard Mr McKearney speak of him last night in terms of “he was very wrong on some things, but completely right on things that I thought were right” which just about sums the man up in a roundabout way.

    Thing is, he stood up for principles and against injustice – the latter, whether it was perpetrated by “the Brits” the RUC or the Provos. He was not prepared to fudge on moral matters such as the hunger strikes – he knew that they were morally wrong accroding to the principle of the CVhurch to which the strikers belonged and of which he was a minister – something a certain Cardinal from south Armagh, despite his erudition, couldnt quite bring himself to say out loud.

    To deny that each one party to the conflict was capable of behaving extremely unjustly is self-delusion. Whatever else can be said of Fr. Faul, he wasn’t deluded. He well deserves his Rest.

  • Mick Hall: What are you rambling about? A Catholic Irishman dies and you go on about the views of some Muslims on the hereafter. You sound like the editor of the erratic The Blanket.

    The Birmningham Six – remember them? -said Frs Faul, Murray and Sr Clarke batted for them when no one else did, ie in their darkest days.

    The Provos moan because he was not their stooge. If the last six hunger strikers did not die, as O’Rawe claims, to aid Sinn Fein, they Sinn Fein did precious little to save them. In the morality stakes ,the Provos are in the same league as the other “combatants” ie also rans.

    As regards not being a bishop, the man was an educator. The Catholic Church made the mistake of making Casey a bishop instead of leaving him do what suited him, helping the homeless and stuff like that.

    I wish the “progressive” Irish were not so regressive.

  • Harry

    The principle of non-violence is often espoused by those whose ultimate aim is the preservation of the status quo. It is frequently little different from calling for the acceptance of the state’s monpoly on violence, at least for the time being. The catholic church has for the vast majority of its time, at least as far as I know, called on irishmen and irishwomen not to assert themselves in arms. It has unrelentingly sought to make the irish concentrate upon the human aspect of the suffering that results from the infliction of violence, to the point of fetish. It has always asked the irish to be passive.

    I have noted no great will on the part of the church to similarly question, in a public manner, those on the british side who may belong to their church. When Parnell was toppled over his infidelity, did the church question and bring to public attention the sex lives of those in the british cabinet? What political consequences have they demanded of the british that are equal to the ones they have constantly sought from the irish? Has the church ever called for those in the british army who are catholic to lay down their arms?

    The irish, under the leadership of priests, have been badgered into forgoing their right to assert themselves in arms for generations. They have been subjected to a stream of propaganda from the vatican that has had political effects and which has been directed only at them, not the other participants to the conflict.

    The catholic church therefore has frequently, under the cloak of ‘non-violence’, exercised political power. Not for nothing was Maynooth bankrolled by the british when it was first set up.

  • Harry: Try to analyse, instead of parroting.
    If you go back to the Civil war, entire areas were excommunicated, Cooley being a noteworthy one.
    Faul was not Maynooth. He simply did not believe in violence, period. And, as I said, he and Sr Clarke et al stood up for the innocent in British jails (as a result of IRA killings) long before renta crowd got involved.
    When were the Irish under the rule of priests?

    You sound like a Home Rule is Rome rule parody. Time now to see the Greatv satan get booted out of the World Cup. A little off topic and due respects to Fr Faul but try these awful soccer jingles:

    Maybe the Brits are not the worst after all

  • Mick Fealty


    “Because law made by men and held up as gospel can be undone by another group of men”.

    That is true. But it does not therefore prove he was talking rubbish. Tom Stoppard recently talked about the fact that rights do not exist independently of man: they have to be willed into existence.

    In that respect, Faul was simply one of the ‘willing’.

  • Ingram


    I would like to share my experience of Father Faul.

    When I first came to NI the computer system 3702 at level 9 recorded Father Faul as being a member of PIRA.

    Level 9 was a level accessed by all soldiers including UDR. The information at this level recorded sightings and low level Intelligence mostly collected from UDR Int Cells.

    At level one( The highest). Father Faul in contrast was recorded as a Roman Catholic priest. Rather than being a IRA man or a Provo priest he was known to be critical of all sections of society. He was fierce in respect to the security forces but he was equally critical of the gangsters in his own community.

    I met him once, a warm intelligent man who suffered no fools. A real loss to society.


  • seanniee

    Its amazing just because Dennis Faul said things that suited a certain section of opinion he is lauded as a great man.He was intolerant as regards mixed education.Just as the Catholic church is intolerant as regards condoms in Aids afflicted countrys.

  • mickhall

    If the Hunger Strikes that took place in the north of Irelands Maize prison in 1981 had not occurred, Fr Denis Fall’s biography and many of the quotes from those who are today singing his praise may well have been somewhat different. For there was little doubt up until that momentous event, most Unionists regarded Fr Fall as at best a troublesome priest, who had given succor and support to the Blanket-men during the years of their protest for political status; and plus by exposing the human rights abuses of the British army in the north of Ireland he had all but sided with the PIRA.

    When the hunger strikes ended with the deaths of ten men, all this changed, as the prisoners and their supporters beyond the prison gate looked around for someone too blame for their defeat at the hands of Margaret Thatcher and the NI prison service. They alighted on the nearest non republican to hand, Denis Fall, who was a prison chaplain and being a friend of the families of many of the hunger strikers, he had advised them to put their sons first.

    On seeing the scorn the Republican movement poured upon Fr Fall, many loyalists and leading Unionist politicians judged he cannot be all bad, on the pretext of my enemies enemy is my friend; and they changed their opinion of Fr Fall over night, reasoning if the Blanket-men hated him, it would do them no harm to say a good word about Fr Fall, the reverse perhaps. In the process totally misunderstanding the situation back then was far more complex than my enemies enemy is my friend.

    Never the less to read the comments from some unionists on Fr Fall’s death, it seems the aforementioned misguided viewpoint’s about Denis Fall still prevail in some quarters. In reality he was firmly in the nationalist camp and defended the human rights of Republican prisoners the best he could under very difficult circumstances.

    Thankfully the fury and bitterness many Blanket-men felt towards Fr Fall when the hunger Strikes ended has subsided somewhat, many of them realizing that although their rage in defeat was understandably, it was unfair to direct it at Denis Fall. This attitude is best summed up in the following quote from Anthony McIntyre a former Blanket-man, when I asked him his thoughts on Father Fall.

    “I thought he did his best. We turned on him at the end of the hunger strike but it was unfair. He was great to us during the Blanket – some amount of tobacco came out of Denis’s shoes during the protest years for the boys”

    Somehow I think Denis Fall would be pleased to hear McIntyres thoughts about him.

  • seanniee

    Defeat.You never learn.Just as in 1916 a so called defeat turned in to victory.Gerry and Martin would not be where they are today with Margaret Thactcher’s stupidity.


    Nuzhound is beginning to stock up with adios Denis pieces. Daily Ireland blame him for the collapse of the hunger strike. What would have been gained by getting 10 more to die on hunger strike? Can the Provos tell the truth about anything?
    Fact is, they went into the hunger strike with no strategy and got some very lucky breaks, mostly in the form of electoral victories. They lost the hunger strike, went downhill after than and eventually packed in the bombs and went after the ballot boxes. Faul had nothing to do with the defeat of the hunger strike.

    Just as it is a good idea not to drag Hitler into arguments, maybe Thomas McSwiney should also be excluded. Usually the guy who lands the biggest punch wins. The big winners of the Troubles have been Big Ian, Gerry and Martin. The Brits also got their desired outcome. Faul was consistent throughout. The not a bomb, not a bullet mob were not.

    Also, in 1981, they scrounged for support. Now, when those who followed them rot in dreary prison cells, what does Adams do? Complain (of course) he did not get an invite to a chic gig at the Victoria and Albert on the very day he went to a junket in Spain. What a w**ker!

  • mickhall

    Defeat.You never learn.Just as in 1916 a so called defeat turned in to victory.Gerry and Martin would not be where they are today
    Posted by seanniee


    If i had a mind I could be nasty and say by your post you seem to agree with Richard O’Rawes analysis of the hunger Strike, I know you do not mean this, but perhaps you should be a bit more careful with your pen before you throw around insults, others might not be so kind.

    What do you want me to do, lie, write the five demands were met and thus the hunger strike was called off before anyone died.
    The fact is the hunger Strike was defeated, for if you do not believe the deaths of men like Bobby Sands, Frances Hughes and the others was a defeat then we differ on the meaning of the word.

    Where you are correct is much good came out of the HS, not least it gave a massive confidence boost to the nationalist people in the north and those engaged in struggle around the world. As to the prisoners and there conditions, true after the HS their conditions improved markedly, but it is debatable wether these could have been attained after the forth death, but that is another matter for debate.

    You mentioned 1916, which was another defeat, but you are correct that momentous change came about due to it. And as far as Adam’s and Co are concerned something similar happened after the HS.

    However this does not mean that either events were not a major setback for Republicanism at the time, it simply shows that republicans were astute enough to recognize this fact and make the necessary changes within their strategy and tactics.

    Only Stalinists and US presidents of the GW type demand that defeats are describes as victories, logical people deal with reality as it is; and try and turn defeat into future victories.

    All the best.

  • J Mac G

    While I didnt always agree with everything he said, the great thing about Fr Faul was that you could tell him you disagreed with him and he wouldnt hold it against you. As an Irish Republican I have witnessed a completely different view of Fr Faul since he came to our parish eight years ago. When he first arrived the local cumann of Sinn Fein were up in arms about his appointment due to his intervention in the ’81 hungerstrikes and his renounciation of the IRA. Shortly afterwards he was personally attacked for meeting with members of the PSNI, a number of parishioners tried to have him removed – but he stayed, and we were so much the better for his presence thereafter.

    He was a great man of great personal courage and humility. He was so good to the disadvantaged and was very humble in his manner.
    He will be badley missed by his parishioners in Termonmaguirc.
    May you rest in peace

  • duffy

    Interesting to compare the tributes of Ken Maginnis and Gerry Adams. Maginnis appears to be warm-hearted and generous and is certainly in the civilised tradition of remembering the best of people at the time of their passing. Adams, on the other hand, seems to spit out his grudging comments which amount to little more than Faul was not an SF Republican so his value was limited.