Catholic priest condemns former anti-IRA taoiseach

Father Sean McManus is originally from Fermanagh

Father Sean McManus is originally from Fermanagh

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A Catholic priest has accused a former Irish leader of being a “useless Irishman” who was prepared to “abet British oppression”.

Father Sean McManus, founder of the Irish National Caucus Inc., made the comments about now-dead Fine Gael politician Garrett FitzGerald.

Garrett FitzGerald with Margaret Thatcher after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985

Garrett FitzGerald with Margaret Thatcher after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985

It followed a press report – published in Dublin’s The Journal on New Year’s Day – which contrasted Mr FitzGerald’s outright condemnation of the IRA in 1985 with the more equivocal attitude of John O’Connor, the Catholic Archbishop of New York.

In The Journal’s article, the former taoiseach was said to have told the archbishop that is was “wrong to equate what is done by security forces trying to maintain law and order” with the violence of unlawful paramilitaries.

Notes from the meeting came to light when they were released alongside other 30-year-old declassified papers.

In response, Fr McManus wrote: “Further proof, not that it’s needed, that Garret FitzGerald was a useless Irishman – a total quisling.”

The term ‘quisling’ stems from Norway, where puppet leader Vidkun Quisling was placed in charge of the country during its occupation by the Nazis.

Fr McManus (who is originally from Fermanagh) continued: “Had he [FitzGerald] remained as Taoiseach, there would never have been a peace process.

“He would have simply continued to aid and abet British oppression in Ireland. The man was a disgrace.”

The Irish National Caucus is based in Washington DC, and describes itself as “a human rights organisation dedicated to getting the United States to stand up for justice and peace in Ireland”. It bills itself as “non-violent, non-partisan, and non-sectarian”.

It is not the first time Fr McManus has spoken out to attack someone for their condemnation of violent republicans.