Sunday, December 30, 2012

UK envoy surprised cardinal was so religious

The British ambassador was surprised to discover that the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland was a deeply religious man.

Leonard Figg made the remarks in a letter reporting on his visit to Armagh to meet Cardinal Tomas O Fiaich in February 1982.

"The cardinal was genial and welcoming," he said. "Contrary to expectations, I found him a sincerely religious character who genuinely appeared to treasure the close relationship he has formed with his Church of Ireland and Methodist opposite numbers."

The meeting came four months after the hunger strike had ended.

According to the letter, Cardinal O Fiaich suggested the strike may have been avoided had prisoners been allowed to wear their own clothes earlier in 1981.

Mr Figg wrote: "I suggested that this might well be so but that we would have had to face a hunger strike later on, since I did not believe the deadly onslaught on the prison system represented by 10 deaths could have been warded off by fiddling with the details of prison administration."