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Bishop in the Dock: the sedition trial of James Liston

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The paper examines the most explosive sectarian episode in NZ history – the only occasion when a Catholic bishop was criminally prosecuted for his political opinions. James Liston’s St Patrick’s night speech contained sentiments on the Irish question which enfuriated the majority of his colonial audience. His sneering references to the British Empire and caustic phrase ‘murdered by foreign troops’ when describing those Irish victims of the Troubles led to a storm of protest and posed a huge problem for the government of Prime Minister Bill Massey, an Ulster-born ex-Orange Grand Master.

Rory Sweetman is an Irish-born New Zealander, with history degrees from Trinity College Dublin and Cambridge. He has published extensively on aspects of New Zealand’s ethnic and religious history and is currently researching a history of the Orange Order in the antipodes.

This talk is part of the University of Cambridge, New Zealand Studies Seminar Group series.

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