Tributes pour in for 'fearless peace-builder' Bishop Daly
Published 09/08/2016 | 02:30
Tributes have been paid to fearless 'peace-builder' Dr Edward Daly after the retired Bishop of Derry lost his battle with cancer.
Dr Daly was surrounded by his family when he passed away yesterday morning at the age of 85.
Hundreds of people attended the removal of the remains of Bishop Daly from Altnagelvin Hospital to St Eugene's Cathedral in Derry last night.
Bishop Daly's remains were escorted from a local funeral director's premises in William Street to the cathedral by members of his immediate family and by priests from the diocese of Derry.
With the Papal flag and Bishop Daly's coat-of-arms flying at half mast outside the parochial house of the cathedral where he served as Bishop of Derry from 1974 until his retirement in 1993, the coffin was met at the main entrance by the current Bishop of Derry, Dr Donal McKeown.
Many of Bishop Daly's cleric and lay contemporaries were present at the arrival of his remains and during the service of evening prayer in the cathedral.
Also present were Bishop Daly's siblings, Marion and Anne, as well as many of his nieces, nephews and his devoted housekeeper Betty.
The much-loved former bishop was described by the Catholic Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, as "a gentle shepherd, whose immense contribution to the spiritual and moral wellbeing of the people of Derry diocese during a troubled time shall never be forgotten".
Archbishop Martin, who was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Daly, also paid tribute to his "untiring advocacy" for the Birmingham Six, the victims of the Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry and for the families of those who were murdered by paramilitaries.
He said that this work had earned Bishop Daly the respect of some, but suspicion from others.
Bishop Daly will forever be associated with Bloody Sunday in January 1972 as the priest, then aged 39, who waved a bloodstained white handkerchief while leading a small group of people through the streets in search of medical assistance for Jackie Duddy, who later died.
Archbishop Martin said Dr Daly was an iconic figure in both the civic and Church life of Ireland, North and South.
He described Dr Daly as "a fearless peace-builder - as exemplified by his courage on Bloody Sunday in Derry - and a holy and humble faith leader".
He said Dr Daly's personal friendship with his Church of Ireland counterpart, Bishop James Mahaffey, sent a quiet, yet powerful message of harmony and bridge-building across the community divide.
President Michael D Higgins said in a statement that Derry's Bishop Emeritus would be remembered by many for his peaceful, compassionate, humanitarian and courageous actions during the appalling events of Bloody Sunday. He also paid tribute to his work both for the regeneration of Derry city and with the hospice movement.
Former president, Mary McAleese, told the Irish Independent that she felt grief at the loss of a man who epitomised all that is best in humanity and in the priesthood. She paid tribute to a man she described as the "perfect pastor".
"His strength lay in his innate decency, courage and honesty.
"The iconic picture of his waving a white handkerchief on Bloody Sunday told the true story of those dreadful events decades before they were officially acknowledged."
Mrs McAleese said Dr Daly had a natural empathy with all forms of suffering and his love for the vulnerable, especially those coping with disability, was "legendary".
"In a divided community, his strong commitment to ecumenism helped all of us transcend the gravitational pull of history's hatreds and find our common humanity."
Mrs McAleese, who made bridge-building a theme of her time in office, said she never knew Dr Daly to be anything other than heartfelt, warm and welcoming, adding: "He was a man I loved to meet, for he affirmed everyone he met and delighted in life."
The North's Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, said Dr Daly was a "huge loss to the city and its people".
Bishop Donal McKeown, the current Bishop of Derry, told the Irish Independent that historians would remember Dr Daly's role in peace-building and in maximising the role of the churches through his friendship with Bishop James Mahaffey.
Recalling his first meeting with the then Edward Daly in 1974, he said: "I simply remember a humble man asking for prayer, aware that 1974 Derry was going to be an enormously challenging mission."
Bishop Daly's funeral will take place in St Eugene's Cathedral, Derry, on Thursday at 3.30pm.