The former Bishop of Derry, Dr Edward Daly, has died at the age of 82.
Bishop Daly, who went to aid of victims on bloody Sunday in 1972, was suffering from a long term illness and had been taken to Altnagelvin Hospital last week. The Catholic Diocese of Derry says Daly died peacefully on Monday after a long illness.
Bishop Daly was a priest in Derry when British paratroopers opened fire on a Catholic civil-rights protest march on January 30, 1972, killing 13 people. The killings helped fuel Northern Ireland’s sectarian violence, in which some 3,000 people died.
The bishop became a hero by administering last rites to victims on the streets amid the mayhem of the Catholic Bogside district. A photo of the priest waving a blood-stained white handkerchief as he tried to help dying 17-year-old Jackie Duddy become one of the event’s abiding images.
“There’s scarcely a day that passes when I don’t think about that day. It’s haunted me all these years,” Bishop Daly said 25 years later.
An initial British inquiry outraged Northern Ireland Catholics with its finding that the British troops’ gunfire followed IRA firing and that the victims could have been armed.
A 12-year investigation found in 2010 that the soldiers were not under attack and fired without justification on unarmed civilians, many of whom were fleeing or aiding the wounded.
Bishop Daly served as Bishop of Derry from 1974 until 1993, retiring after suffering from a stroke. His death was announced “with deepest regret” by the current Bishop of Derry, Donal McKeown, on Monday.
“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 McKeown said.
“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 was born in Belleek, County Fermanagh, in the Diocese of Clogher, on December 5, 1933. After primary education in Belleek, he attended second level education in Saint Columb’s College, Derry. From there, he was sent, as a student for the Diocese of Derry, to prepare for priesthood in the Pontifical Irish College, Rome.
He was ordained on March 16 1957, a priest of the Diocese of Derry. His first appointment was as a Curate in Castlederg, County Tyrone. In 1962 he was appointed as a Curate in Saint Eugene’s Cathedral, Derry, and in 1973 he was appointed Religious Advisor to RTÉ, Dublin.
In retirement as Bishop Emeritus, despite poor health, until earlier this year he continued to serve as a dedicated Chaplain to the Foyle Hospice, Derry. He also served as Diocesan Archivist.
Archbishop Eamon Martin, the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, said Bishop Daly ordained him to the priesthood in 1987 and that he would “always be grateful for his pastoral guidance, kindness and support”.
“Bishop Edward was an iconic figure in the civic and Church life of Ireland, north and south. He truly lived and proclaimed the Good News of Jesus Christ and, in doing so, became a role model for all of us,” Archbishop Martin said.
Bishop Daly was “a tireless worker for the people, priests and religious of the diocese,” the Archbishop said, adding his first memory of the the bishop “was when I was a thirteen year old boy, walking to the bottom of our street in Pennyburn, to greet the new bishop. He was just forty years of age and came across as warm, youthful and interested in us, his people.”
Archbishop Martin added: “Bishop Edward literally spent himself in the service of others. His episcopal motto ‘pasce oves meas’ (feed my sheep) inspired a total pastoral giving of himself in service and love for his diocese. He was a gentle shepherd whose immense contribution to the spiritual and moral well-being of the people of Derry diocese during a troubled time shall never be forgotten. He had a sensitive heart and generous disposition; ever caring to the sick, the bereaved, and to victims on all sides of the Troubles.”
Bishop Daly, the archbishop said, “took a personal interest in those who suffered miscarriages of justice” and “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.”
“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,” Archbishop Martin continued. “His bravery was also apparent in his lived conviction that violence from any side during the Troubles was futile and could never be morally justified. He was courageous in speaking out against injustice and took many personal risks for peace and reconciliation.”
Cardinal Vincent Nichols wrote on Twitter that he was “saddened” by the death of Bishop Daly, who he said was “a true pastor”.
I am saddened by the death of Bishop Edward Daly, a true pastor who steadfastly lived and proclaimed the Gospel of peace in difficult times.
— Cardinal Nichols (@CardinalNichols) August 8, 2016
Later, Cardinal Nichols released a statement in which he said Bishop Daly “will be mourned by many Christians of all denominations, not only in Northern Ireland but beyond.”
“I had the privilege of meeting him on a number of occasions and of being shown round Derry by him. His love and concern for all the people of the city was so evident, as was his commitment to justice and good order. He was indeed a man of prayer and of the people. May he rest in peace,” the bishop said.