Pope Francis pays tribute to ‘peacemaker’ bishop Edward Daly

Large crowds attend funeral of man who went to assist victim of Bloody Sunday

Archive footage from Bloody Sunday in Derry, January 30th 1972, showing former Bishop of Derry Dr Edward Daly as he helped victims of the shootings. Video: Reuters

 

A papal tribute to former Bishop of Derry Edward Daly in recognition of work in peace and justice has been read out at his funeral.

As a young priest, he came to international attention when waving a blood-stained white handkerchief as he led a mortally injured teenage civil rights protester to safety on Bloody Sunday in January 1972.

The peacemaker and staunch opponent of violence died on Monday aged 82.

President Michael D Higgins was among mourners at a Requiem Mass at St Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry.

A message from a spokesman for Pope Francis said: “Recalling Bishop Daly’s generous and dedicated episcopal ministry in the service of peace and justice, His Holiness joins you in prayerful thanksgiving for his life and in commending his soul to the merciful love of God Our Father.”

His funeral attracted a large crowd from across Ireland and beyond.

Dr Daly’s sisters Marion and Anne, nieces and nephews will be among the chief mourners. He will be buried in the cathedral grounds afterwards.

Many well-wishers and old friends have visited St Eugene’s to see his body lying in repose.

Ministry

In later life the retired bishop was reluctant to discuss the moment that arguably best symbolised his Christian ministry; in death it has largely defined him.

As a young priest he famously waved the bloodied rag as he led a brave group bearing fatally injured civil rights protester Jackie Duddy (17) to safety in Derry on Bloody Sunday.

Paratroopers had opened fire and killed 13 people. Fourteen were injured and another was to die later.

Bloody Sunday has been described as one of the catalysts of IRA recruitment and the 30-year Northern conflict which left more than 3,000 dead and many others injured.

Dr Daly was a prominent witness at Lord Widgery’s inquiry soon after the event, which exonerated troops from the Parachute Regiment, concluding that they had come under attack from gunmen and bombers.

He dedicated much of the rest of his life to clearing the names of all the victims. He believed the violence of the Troubles was futile and morally unjustified and was an arch-critic of the IRA.

The head of the Catholic Church in Ireland Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin has lauded him as a fearless peace builder who took a personal interest in those who suffered miscarriages of justice.

His untiring advocacy for the Birmingham Six, the victims of Bloody Sunday and for the families of those murdered by paramilitaries earned him respect from some, suspicion from others.

Dr Daly was Bishop of Derry from 1974 until 1993, stepping aside after suffering a stroke. In recent years he had battled a long-term illness.

PA