Monsignor Denis O'Beirne Faul
(14August, 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
Born on 14 August 1932 in the village of Louth, County Louth, 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
Mgr Faul 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
and Royal Ulster Constabulary
(RUC). He railed against killings perpetrated by the Provisional Irish Republican Army
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.
Irish hunger strike
In 1981, as the Catholic chaplain of the Maze
prison, Monsignor Faul played a decisive role in ending the hunger strike. He tried to persuade families of the Hunger strikers in July 1981 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. The IRA referred to him as Dennis the Menace
at this time.
In 1993 he described his role in the hunger strikes for a BBC "Timewatch" documentary
Following his retirement from the Academy in 1998 he became Parish Priest of neighbouring Termonmaguirc (Carrickmore
). Monsignor Faul died of cancer in Dublin
on 21 June 2006, aged 73. 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.