Bloody Sunday priest dies

Bloody Sunday priest dies

The photo reproduced in central Derry, Co Londonderry. Source: Wikimedia

The retired Catholic Bishop of Derry, Dr Edward Daly, whose photograph became the iconic image of the Bloody Sunday massacre in 1972, has died aged 82.

The bishop from Ballyshannon, County Donegal, had been ill in hospital with cancer.

The picture of then Father Daly waving a handkerchief over one of the Bloody Sunday victims to dissuade British troops from firing as he tried to bring wounded civilians through military lines to be treated. It became one of the most reproduced images of the Northern Irish civil war.

The 39-year-old curate at St Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry had been a priest in the city since 1962.

Daly was appointed Bishop of Derry in 1974 and was forced into retirement in 1994 after he suffered a stroke but he held the role of chaplain to Derry’s Foyle Hospice until this February.

In 2011 he said there needed to be a role in the Roman Catholic Church for married clergy in his book, “The Church, A Troubled See”. Allowing clergymen to marry would reduce the vast organisation’s problems, he argued.

He was awarded the Freedom of the City of Derry last year.

Deputy First Minister of Sinn Fein Martin McGuinness, who was an IRA (Irish Republican Army) commander in the city at the time, said Daly was “a constant right throughout the course of the last 40 odd years in the city through the good times and bad”.

“Bishop Daly was inherently a shy person, he was not someone who sought the headlines, but he was propelled into the headlines because of Bloody Sunday, as he tried to help Jackie Duddy, for that iconic image,” said the militant turned politician. McGuinness said Daly was always critical of the IRA and “anyone that was involved in the conflict”.

The bishop was “an iconic figure in the civic and church life of Ireland”, said Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, the Catholic primate of Ireland.

“As the bishop who ordained me to the priesthood in 1987, I had huge admiration for Bishop Edward. I shall always be grateful for his pastoral guidance, kindness and support,” he said. “Bishop Edward will be remembered as a fearless peace-builder, as exemplified by his courage on Bloody Sunday in Derry, and as a holy and humble faith leader.

“Bishop Edward’s bravery was also apparent in his lived conviction that violence from any side during the Troubles was futile and could never be morally justified.” The current 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.”

Pat Hume, the wife of former SDLP leader John Hume, who was actively involved in moderate Catholic politics in the troubled city and witnessed the aftermath of the Bloody Sunday massacre, said Daly had been an “immense source of strength” to her family.

“He was such a wonderful communicator,” she told the BBC. “He could communicate and let a person feel so, so special and let them feel he had time for them, even though he was an extremely busy man. He always gave that impression that he had time for people.”

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