Response to Murder of Dean Finlay

Belfast News-Letter, 8 August 1921

In June 1921 eighty-year-old Reverend John Finlay, Dean of Leighlin from 1895 to 1912, was taken from his Cavan residence and shot dead by IRA members. The raiders then set fire to his home, which was destroyed completely. Two months later, ‘a suffering Protestant’ wrote to the Belfast Telegraph suggesting a memorial for Dean Finlay and advocating central Protestant organisation for Northern Ireland.

The Crimes of Sinn Fein


Sir—I appreciate the publication of the letter on this subject. The murder of Dean Finlay by these fiends will always remain in our memory, and I hope that a fitting memorial will be established to the memory of a sainted old man who was allowed to live ten years longer than the allotted span of human life. A training college for lay readers and students would be a fitting one, and Enniskillen, a short distance from the spot of the awful tragedy, would be an excellent place, where the famous Portora Royal School is. Yes, these crimes must be exposed, and the whole world shown what Protestants are suffering daily in Ireland. We see Roman bishops raising thousands for those who are sympathising with these criminals. Why not raise funds for distressed Protestants. We are a like a ship without a rudder—no organisation. In South Fermanagh they formed a Protestant Protection Association, and it has done good work both in the courts, getting exemption from malicious injury claims, &c., and otherwise. Now, sir, why not have it universal, if not in all Ireland, at least in Ulster; band all other societies together and the Churches, have our relief funds, our propaganda work, employment department, &c., &c. Why, it would be better to spend a thousand a year in getting a good organiser than fighting revisions, the men employed by Protestants. If we had our organisation we would have nothing to fear, and all would be well. Will the appeal fall on deaf ears? I hope not, and in God’s name go forward and organise properly. We are five years too late, but if we do so now this winter will be a peaceful one in Ulster. We should come to the aid of distressed Protestants in the South and West, too, and would get help financially, not only from Great Britain and the Colonies, but America. Is there a superman to come forward? If so all Ulster is at his back, and we are determined that “never again” can this sort of thing happen. The Y.M.C.A. did a lot during the war; they can also help now. The Churches can also. Without a central organisation we can do nothing and there would be no difficulty in extending branches all over. There is no time to lose, and I hope that before the week-end the movement will be well in hand. — Thanking you in anticipation, yours faithfully.