The campaign of violence which has ravaged Ireland for the last 11 years is the biggest factor leading to irreligion in the country, according to Bishop Cahal Daly of Ardagh and Clonmacnois.
And if Ireland was to suffer the same de-Christianisation that other European countries had experienced, then the leadership of the IRA would be largely responsible, he said.
In his address for Peace Sunday, Bishop Daly said that under the shadow of violence "crime and lawlessness have proliferated and all kinds of immorality have been given an unprecedented chance to flourish."
Bishop Daly appealed particularly to young Irishmen to have second thoughts about their involvement with para military organisations.
Nevertheless the IRA had been greatly assisted in their campaign by the mistakes of the British Administration and the security chiefs, said Bishop Daly. The IRA was practically a spent force until it was handed the proptolanda gift of the situation of prisoners in the famous "H Blcok" of the Maze Prison.
This, together with Army harrassment of innocent people, were now virtually the only source of vestigial sympathy or recruitment for the IRA, he said.
Prisoners in H Block were campaigning for political status by refusing to wear prison clothes or slop out their cells. No matter what the explanation for the situation or how blame was apportioned, it was folly to refuse as the British Government had, to review the situation which allowed prisoners to continue living in such conditions, said Bishop Daly.