Courageous Bishop Edward Daly dies age 82

The death has taken place of Catholic Bishop Edward Daly who was present in Derry's Bogside on Bloody Sunday in 1972. An enduring image of that dreadful day, 30 January 1972, was Father Edward Daly waving a white blood-stained handkerchief while he and others courageously tried to escort the mortally wounded 17 year old Jackie Duddy to safety.

Bloody Sunday happened in the Bogside area of Derry, in the north of Ireland. British soldiers belonging to the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment (1 PARA) shot 26 unarmed civilians during a civil rights protest march. Fourteen people were killed, thirteen outright, while another man died of his injuries four months later. Some of the victims were shot when attempting to flee from the soldiers, others were shot while trying to help the wounded. Some protesters were injured by rifle butts and rubber bullets, while two were run down by army vehicles.

All of the soldiers responsible claimed that they had shot at gunmen or bomb-throwers. Father Daly and other marchers made it clear when interviewed at the time that this was not the case and the victims were unarmed civilians with many being shot in the back by the British Army. Two investigations have been held by the British government into the massacre. The first and now discredited Widgery Tribunal, held in the immediate aftermath of the incident, for the most part cleared the British forces of blame. Seen as a "whitewash" a further enquiry was demanded and The Saville Inquiry was established in 1998 to reinvestigate the incident. After a 12-year inquiry, Saville's report was made public in 2010 and concluded that the killings were both "unjustified" and "unjustifiable". Concluding that those shot were unarmed, that no bombs were thrown, and that British soldiers "knowingly put forward false accounts" to justify their firing. On the publication of the report, then British prime minister David Cameron made a formal apology on behalf of the United Kingdom.  

At the time of the massacre Dr Daly was a 39-year-old curate at St Eugene's Cathedral in Derry. As the march passed the catherdral he joined with the protesters as they made there way en route to the city centre. He was close to Jackie Duddy when the teenager was shot by soldiers and anointed him and gave him the Last Rites. The image of Dr Daly and other marchers attempting to bring him to safety with the priest leading the way with a handkerchief in his hand spread around the world on that infamous day. He, along with others, showed remarkable bravery which was in stark contrast to the attrocious behaviour of the British army as they gunned down unarmed civilians.

Dr Daly was born in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal.  He was ordained on 16 March 1957 and his first appointment was a curate in Castlederg, Co Tyrone. Dr Daly was appointed as a curate in St Eugene's Cathedral in 1962. He served as Bishop of Derry from 1974 until 1993 and in recent years, although in poor health, was chaplain at the Foyle Hospice. He also served as a Diocesan Archivist. Dr Daly was awarded the Freedom of the City by Derry City Council last year at the age of 82. He died at 9am yesterday, with family members by his bedside. The funeral Mass will be held on Thursday afternoon.

Image below of  Edward Daly on Bloody Sunday by BBC journalist John Bierman


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