Edward Daly, Vocal Bishop in Northern Ireland, Dies at 82

By Chan, Sewell | International New York Times, August 10, 2016 | Go to article overview

Edward Daly, Vocal Bishop in Northern Ireland, Dies at 82


Chan, Sewell, International New York Times


As a priest and later as bishop, he argued relentlessly for peace during the three decades of sectarian violence.

Edward Daly, who as the Roman Catholic bishop of Northern Ireland's second-largest city argued relentlessly for peace during the three decades of sectarian violence known as the Troubles, died on Monday in Londonderry. He was 82.

His death, at Altnagelvin Area Hospital, was announced by Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry, the diocese that Bishop Daly led from 1974 to 1993, when he stepped down after having a stroke. (The city, officially Londonderry, is commonly known by its shorter name.) He was hospitalized after a fall several weeks ago.

"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," Bishop McKeown said in a statement.

On Jan. 30, 1972, as a 38-year-old curate at St. Eugene's Cathedral, Father Daly escorted unarmed protesters on a march toward the city center when British soldiers opened fire, resulting in the deaths of 14 people. The massacre became known as Bloody Sunday.

Images of Father Daly waving a bloodied white handkerchief as protesters tried to carry a wounded man, Jackie Duddy, to safety circulated around the world.

"I went in front with this handkerchief in my hand, and they carried Jackie behind me," he later told the BBC. "All hell was let loose. We were very nervous and frightened, and when we laid him down on the pavement, he had died."

He added: "It was utterly disgraceful. There was nothing fired at them," meaning the soldiers. "I can say that with absolute certainty because I was there."

Father Daly later told The New York Times that the massacre fueled the growth of the Irish Republican Army, the paramilitary group that battled British security forces and the unionist segments of Northern Ireland's population throughout the Troubles.

"Many young people I have talked to in prison have told me they would have never joined the I.R.A. had it not been for what they witnessed on Bloody Sunday," he said.

In 2010, after a 12-year investigation that cost about 200 million pounds, or $265 million at the exchange rate now, "a serious and widespread loss" of discipline among the soldiers was blamed for the massacre.

Britain's prime minister at the time, David Cameron, apologized, calling the massacre "unjustified and unjustifiable. …

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