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Bishop Edward Daly funeral: Tributes paid to Bloody Sunday priest at St Eugene's Cathedral in Derry

Irish President Michael D Higgins, former SDLP leader John Humer and Sinn Fein leader Martin McGuinness among mourners

Thousands of people have attended the funeral of the former Bishop of Derry Edward Daly.

Dr Daly's family and fellow clergy were joined at St Eugene's Cathedral by political and religious leaders from across Ireland.

The bells of both St Eugene's Cathedral and the Church of Ireland's St Columb's Cathedral began ringing out across the city at 3.30pm.

A papal tribute to Dr Daly's dedication to peace and justice was read out during the service.

As a young cleric the future Bishop of Derry waved a blood-stained white rag as a symbol of ceasefire as he led a mortally injured teenage civil rights protester to safety under army fire in January 1972.

The peacemaker and staunch opponent of all violence died on Monday aged 82.

[Audio] Listen to Bishop McKeown's homily below

Irish President Michael D Higgins and Sinn Fein leader Martin McGuinness were among mourners.

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."

Mourners, including the 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”.

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.

As a young priest he famously led the brave group bearing fatally injured Jackie Duddy, 17, to safety.

Paratroopers had opened fire and killed 13 people. Fourteen were injured and another was to die later.

Bloody Sunday has been described as one of the catalysts of IRA recruitment and the 30-year conflict which left more than 3,000 dead and many others injured.

He will be buried in the cathedral grounds afterwards.

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