Tom McGurk handles the ‘split’ between Dennis Faul and the Republican Movement as deftly as anyone writing in the Sundays.
When the Irish government took the British government to the European Court of Human Rights on torture allegations following internment, Fr Faul did the early ground work. His dossier of statistics on prisoner abuse, including long lists of those with perforated eardrums, led to the Lord Gardiner Report. And of course he was central to ending the 1981 Hunger Strike in Long Kesh.
It was the parting of the ways for the Republican Movement and Fr Faul – afterwards they became increasingly disenchanted with him and he with them. When I last spent an afternoon with him in Carrickmore, where he went to be parish priest at the end of his long teaching career, he was deeply cynical about their part in the peace process. Always a nationalist rather than a Republican politically, he simply could not accept their new peaceful bona fides. He was deeply concerned about their power on the ground and in theNorthern community.
In the face of the intractable crisis between the Thatcher government and the dying and trapped hunger-strikers, Fr Faul recognised that there was one power still left unutilised. It was ‘mother power’ as he explained it to me and he simply turned to the mothers of the hungers-strikers and said ‘‘go and save your children’’. They did. If anything exemplified what Fr Faul was about and what he believed in, it was this defining moment. He passionately believed in the divine right of individual justice, the rights of the individual caught up in the raging seas of competing political establishments.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty