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Tributes paid to Roman Catholic bishop who played iconic role in Northern Ireland Troubles

Posted on: August 8, 2016 3:19 PM
Footage captured by a BBC television news cameraman of Father Edward Daly – then a 39-year-old priest – waving a blood-soaked white handkerchief to request a ceasefire so that one of the victims of Bloody Sunday, Jackie Duddy, could be carried past soldiers to medical help, became one of the most iconic symbols of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
Photo Credit: BBC News

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The Anglican Bishop of Derry and Raphoe has paid tribute to the retired Roman Catholic Irish Bishop Edward Daly, whose bravery on what became known as Bloody Sunday led to one of the most iconic images of the troubles in Northern Ireland. Bishop Daly died this morning after a short illness, at the age of 82.

Soldiers from the British Army opened fire on civilian protestors during a march against internment on 30 January 1972. As a result, 13 people were killed – another died a few weeks later – and another 13 were injured. In 2010 an official Inquiry ruled that the army’s actions were “unjustified” and that, contrary to the official version given by the government at the time, the victims had been unarmed.

A BBC television news cameraman captured footage as Father Edward Daly – then a 39-year-old priest serving at St Eugene’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Londonderry – waved a blood-soaked white handkerchief to request a ceasefire as one of the victims, Jackie Duddy, was carried past soldiers to medical help.

Despite Daly’s actions, Duddy died of his injures. But the footage was shown around the world and remains one of the most iconic scenes of the decades-long conflict between Republicans, who want Northern Ireland reunited with the Republic of Ireland; and Unionists, who want to retain Northern Ireland’s position within the United Kingdom.

Daly was appointed Bishop of Derry in 1974 and held the position for 20 years until he retired following a stroke. He continued to serve as chaplain to Derry’s Foyle Hospice until earlier this year.

“The death of Bishop Edward Daly is a great loss to his family, to the Roman Catholic Church and to the whole community,” the Anglican Church of Ireland’s Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Ken Good, said. “He was a man of great strength, great courage and great compassion and set an inspirational example to everyone around him.

“Bishop Daly provided unwavering Christian leadership and guidance when it was desperately needed in this city and community – during the darkest days of the Troubles. His deep friendship with my predecessor, Bishop James Mehaffey, provided an impressive and influential example of Christian witness.

“He served selflessly for almost 60 years in his ministry as deacon, priest and bishop. Over the last 22 years he provided much appreciated pastoral care to the terminally ill at the Foyle Hospice, an experience which gave him a further appreciation of the sanctity of human life and the importance of faith.

“Bishop Daly was a good and faithful servant of the Lord and a good and faithful servant of this community. He was generous. He was great company. He was a good friend. He will be sadly missed. I extend to his family my sympathy and my prayers.”

Bishop Mehaffey, whose term as Bishop of Derry and Raphoe overlapped with Bishop Daly’s time as Bishop of Derry, said that he was “deeply saddened” to hear of the death.

“Our paths first crossed in 1980, when I was appointed Bishop of Derry and Raphoe,” he said. “Afterwards we became firm friends. We ministered to a divided community at a difficult time in its history, and sought to provide true Christian leadership. We worked closely together, at home and abroad – including on two joint visits to the United States – and the friendship which developed between us was one of the great blessings of my ministry.

“What Bishop Edward and I did together was based on faith, friendship, respect and trust. He was a man of God and a man of the people, a great church leader and a remarkable friend.

“I offer my deepest condolences and prayers to his family and to all those in our community who mourn his passing.”

RC-Derry _Bp -Edward -Daly

Bishop Edward Daly, whose bravery on what became known as Bloody Sunday became an iconic image of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, died today aged 82.
Photo: RC Diocese of Derry

The current Roman Catholic Bishop of Derry, Donal McKeown, said: “Bishop Daly served, without any concern for himself, throughout the traumatic years of the Troubles, finding his ministry shaped by the experience of witnessing violence and its effects; through this dreadful period he always strove to preach the Gospel of the peace of Christ.

“Bishop Daly provided an example of priestly ministry which was exemplary, inspired by service of God and the people he encountered. His ministry was characterised by his deep love of the people of this diocese, his dedicated visitation of parishes and his constant availability to others. The bishops, priests and people of the diocese were blessed to have such a dedicated and faithful priest among them.”

Bishop Daly’s body will be received into Saint Eugene’s Cathedral this evening, where it will remain until a funeral Mass on Thursday afternoon.