Denis Faul

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The Right Rev. Monsignor Denis O'Beirne Faul (14 August 1932 – 21 June 2006), was an Irish Roman Catholic priest and civil rights campaigner best known for his role in the 1981 Irish Hunger Strike. At his death, he held the honorific title of Monsignor within the Catholic Church.


Born on 14 August 1932 in the village of Louth, County Louth, in the north of the Province of Leinster, he was the son of Joseph and Anne Frances Faul. He was educated at St Patrick's College, Armagh, and thereafter studied for the priesthood at St Patrick's College, Maynooth, where he was ordained in 1956. After a year studying Theology in Rome, he joined the staff of St Patrick's Boys' Academy in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, to teach Latin and religion. He was appointed principal in 1983.

Civil rights movement[edit]

Mgr Faul (being known simply as the Fr. Faul at the time) became actively involved in the Northern Ireland civil rights movement in 1968, participating in marches. He protested vigorously against civil rights abuses by the British army [1] and Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). He railed against killings perpetrated by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA).

He also campaigned for the release of the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four and Maguire Seven before their causes became well-known and vindicated.[2]

Irish hunger strike[edit]

In 1981, as a visiting priest assisting the formally appointed chaplain, Faul played a decisive role in ending the hunger strike. In July 1981, he tried to persuade families of the hunger strikers that the campaign would not change the minds of Margaret Thatcher and her ministers and nothing could be gained by more deaths. The families spoke to the prisoners, resulting in two prisoners (Paddy Quinn and Pat McKeown) being moved to the hospital wings where they could be fed. By 6 September, four other participants had joined them and the remaining prisoners agreed to end their campaign on 3 October.[3] The IRA referred to him as Dennis the Menace at this time.[4]

In 1993 he described his role in the hunger strikes for a BBC "Timewatch" documentary.[5]

Later life[edit]

Father Faul was honoured by the church with the title Monsignor in 1995. Following his retirement from teaching in 1998 he became Parish Priest of neighbouring Termonmaguirc (Carrickmore). Monsignor Faul died of cancer in Dublin on 21 June 2006, aged 73.[6] Former hunger strikers and prisoners, Republicans and senior members of Sinn Féin attended the large funeral at St. Colmcille's Church, Carrickmore, many having come to respect the work carried out by Faul over his lifetime.

He criticised integrated education, insisting that Catholic parents were required by Canon law to send their children to Catholic schools and also claimed the schools were a "dirty political trick" inspired by the British Government.[7][8][9]


  1. ^ D.Streatfeild, Source Material: Brainwash: The Secret Story of Mind Control - Interview with Monsignor Denis Faul, 9th Nov 2004. ISBN 0-340-83161-8 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-10-02. Retrieved 2011-03-21.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Irish Examiner "NI: Human rights campaigner Denis Faul dies " 21 June 2006
  3. ^ BBC History "The Troubles - Hunger Strikes - Violence and Negotiations"
  4. ^ Taylor, Peter (1997). Provos The IRA & Sinn Féin. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 220. ISBN 0-7475-3818-2.
  5. ^ [1]"Timewatch:Hunger Strike - a Hidden History"(Otmoor Productions/BBC 1993.).
  6. ^ BBC News story reporting Fr Faul's death
  7. ^ Monsignor Denis Faul, Independent, 22 June 2006
  8. ^ Monsignor Denis Faul, obituaries, The Daily Telegraph, 22 June 2006
  9. ^ A man of God who feared none in defence of all, Maurice Hayes, Irish Independent, 25 June 2006