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Bloody Sunday priest Edward Daly 'a walking saint'

Published 09/08/2016

Edward Daly holding a portrait of Jackie Duddy, who was shot dead on Bloody Sunday
Edward Daly holding a portrait of Jackie Duddy, who was shot dead on Bloody Sunday

Bloody Sunday priest Edward Daly should be sainted for what he did for the people of Derry, a former civil rights leader has said.

He led the way brandishing a bloodstained white handkerchief, as Hugh McMonagle helped carry fatally injured teenager Jackie Duddy under army fire, in one of the enduring images of the Troubles.

Dr Daly, the retired Catholic Bishop of Derry, died on Monday aged 82 after a life dedicated to non-violence, faith and comforting the sick.

His body is at St Eugene's Cathedral in the city ahead of a funeral mass on Thursday.

Mr McMonagle, 71, visited to pay his respects, saying: "If anyone is talking about a walking saint it was him."

The cleric was a life-long critic of all violence.

As a young priest he famously waved the bloodied rag as a symbol of ceasefire as he aided the wounded 17-year-old civil rights protester in Londonderry in January 1972, probably the first of 14 to die.

Mr McMonagle recalled: "You were walking there and you were under a gun battle, all you had was the body of a young boy. And they were firing over our heads and you were walking there.

"He went in front, leading us as usual, waving a white handkerchief of peace, let me through, but they kept on firing and then we took young Jackie up, lay him down at the top of Harvey Street.

"You go then and ask for an ambulance which was sitting there and all they (soldiers) do is just look at you from the walls of Derry.

"You are screaming for an ambulance and that animal standing on top of the walls, a soldier, standing clapping. That is hard to take. And people wonder why you get angry or hurt."

Paratroopers had opened fire on large crowds of demonstrators and killed 13 people. Fourteen were injured, and another died later. After a public inquiry David Cameron, as prime minister, said in 2010 that the killings had been unjustified.

Father Daly became Bishop of Derry two years after the massacre and spent much of the next two decades fighting to clear the names of the victims. He told Mr McMonagle not to hate as it would only eat him up.

Mr McMonagle added: "He gave us hope for what we were going through at that time with Bloody Sunday, he was there personally for us.

"If our Pope would turn around and look at the life of our father Bishop Edward, he was a walking saint, charity, he donated his retirement to Foyle Hospice, he donated everything. He looked after his flock.

"It is heartbreaking looking at him and saying you are not with us any more, physically, but spiritually I know you will be looking after this city.

"My heart is breaking, it is really breaking."

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