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Sunday 11 December 2016

'A great priest, a courageous leader' - funeral of Bloody Sunday 'white handkerchief' bishop

Greg Harkin

Published 11/08/2016 | 16:26

President Micheal D Higgins is welcomed by Bishop Donal McKeown (front right) to the funeral of Dr Edward Daly at St Eugene's Cathedral: Niall Carson/PA Wire
President Micheal D Higgins is welcomed by Bishop Donal McKeown (front right) to the funeral of Dr Edward Daly at St Eugene's Cathedral: Niall Carson/PA Wire

PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins joined hundreds of mourners today in Derry for the Requiem Mass of Bishop Edward Daly.

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More than a 1,000 local people joined more than 120 members of the clergy inside St Eungene’s Cathedral in the city with hundreds more standing outside.

Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness attending the funeral of Dr Edward Daly at St Eugene's Cathedral: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness attending the funeral of Dr Edward Daly at St Eugene's Cathedral: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Former SDLP leader John Hume attending the funeral of Dr Edward Daly at St Eugene's Cathedral: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Ivan Cooper, a Protestant who fought for civil rights and helped found the SDLP, and former party leader John Hume were among the mourners.

Bishop Daly came to world prominence in January 1972 as he helped to take the dying Jackie Duddy (17) out of the Bogside on Bloody Sunday.

Today the teenager’s sister Kay was among the Offertory Procession at the funeral of Dr Daly who died this week aged 82.

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."

The iconic picture of then Fr Edward Daly leading a group of people as they carry Jackie Duddy, who later died, on a street in Derry on Bloody Sunday
The iconic picture of then Fr Edward Daly leading a group of people as they carry Jackie Duddy, who later died, on a street in Derry on Bloody Sunday
Dr Edward Daly: humble Photo: Paul Faith/PA Wire

The cleric's use of a white handkerchief during a massacre of innocent civil rights protesters by soldiers in Derry in Northern Ireland became an enduring image of the conflict.

Mourners, including the British Queen’s representative Lord Lieutenant of Derry Angela Garvey, heard the current Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown pay tribute to Dr Daly as a man of peace who opposed violence from all quarters during the Troubles.

“His ministry was marked by total dedication to the people he served, wherever he was called to minister,” said Bishop McKeown. “That dedication was visible in outstanding courage. He showed physical courage on Bloody Sunday and his moral courage was evident in his passionate struggle against violence and injustice from all quarters.

“It takes enormous courage to be a peacemaker and he was an apostle of mercy, whether as a curate, as a bishop or as chaplain in the Foyle Hospice. For that courageous service of God and of his people, we give thanks today. We have all been blessed by it.”

Bishop McKeown said the thousands of people who had filed past the coffin of Bishop Daly in the past four days showed “that they value loving, courageous, generous spiritual leadership. Bishop Daly would not seek praise for himself. He would ask that more young people dedicate their lives to his sort of service to God and his people.”

He said his first encounter with Bishop Edward Daly was when he visited the Irish College in Rome in 1974.

“He was a young bishop and we were studying theology. He asked us to do one thing – he said ‘please pray for me’,” said Bishop McKeown.

“This was not merely a pious expression. Rather they seemed to come from a heart which knew the maelstrom that was Northern Ireland in those awful years.

“He knew about murder and loss. He knew that the years of conflict followed upon decades of terrible poverty and discrimination – as well as heroic generosity. “He knew the enormous resilience of people who could face almost anything together

Archbishop Eamon Martin speaking at the end of the Mass said Dr Daly was “a wonderful priest and bishop with charisma that made him so uniquely suited to service in this time and place.”

“There was never any doubt that Edward Daly was a great priest, a caring and compassionate pastor, a man of prayer and peace, a courageous and fearless leader, a special person”.

Bishop Daly will be laid to rest in the cathedral graveyard later.

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