Father O'Flynn by MONK GIBBON
Cluirell and State in Modern Ireland 1921-1970 by J R. Whyte (Gill and Maamillan £4.25)
IT has always been the opinion of ,soine Catholics and a good many Protestants in Ireland that the activities of that genial individual Father O'Flynn, of song fame, did not by any means stop at "hclpin' " the lazy warts on wid a stick.
and still more his bishop; were regarded as the power behind the throne; except that there was no longer any throne.
'[he hierarchy cracked the whip and the ci1cr.0 soured politicians were said to tremble at the mere sound of it and to show their submissiveness by an immediate reversal of policy.
Mr. Whyte's book is a wellwritten and admirably dispassionate attempt to weigh fairly the weight ot clerical influence in a country which boasts in its (`oostitution of its religious allegeinee Oshereas in America the astronauts were accused of having flaunted their constitution by having read a passage, or said a prayer, on board their spaceship, thereby revealing certain individual loyalties to the annoyance of all unbelievers). He examines the evidence carefully and conscientiously, and, at the end, finds himself loacd iti Ieturn 1,)t si LI ■11ct, but one N1. hiLsh tainly acquits the Irish bishops of da toting policy or of even at ten-liming to influence it at governmental level in 'more than half a dozen instances over LL Minther of years.
He relates little which would justify Dr. Noel Browne's lecent and savage attack on the priesthood, which has led to the Labour pally in Ireland disclaiming him, lost as Mr. Sean MacBride has once before. in 195I, disooned him :is Minister for Health and member -at that time of the Clan no Public mita party 1 hat episode is all to be read here in copious appendices, and Dr. Browne tells Maellride, "Expediency is your sole yard stick, and to expediency you arc prepared to submit all principles sacred and profane".
The modern liberal is a good hater and is never tired of reminding the churches of what good haters they were :— in the remote past. Occasionally the liberal does get a gilt of some etlectiveanticlerical propaganda on a plane When a football maids was rra nged i n ociohe 1 1955
against Yugoslavia. the chancellor of the aichdiocese of Dublin phoned his Cirace's protest to the executive of the Irish Football Association at not being consulted; the Department of -Defence withdrew its hand, which had been booked to play at the inaich and the President Nit Sean i ri hells, cancelled he. aaceptmce Ill anead.
But ;in :aids:nee of 21,000 ihotteht d tl e re ni , and. according to one observer, the episode revealed iliat "far from being subject to clerical doRlirIA titTh. the great majority of out people react sharply against tinier pressure.
An all-white tennis audience in South Africa, and ping-pang enthusiasts in Dublin. have shown thernselcc:, recently, just as rebellious io ideological dictation. in shoo.
In itself. Mr Whyte's book is far from disquieting. But on a wider front it hints again and again at the many signs that in a country as soon as an authoritarian regime gladly accepted in view of past loyalty shown by outlawed priests to the people -begins to have its authority savagely attacked or subtly undermined; and when liberalism after over running injudiciously-placed outposts. seems to be getting ready for it much more ambitious frontal attack upon the whole position.