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Bloody Sunday priest was apostle of mercy, funeral told

Published 11/08/2016

The funeral of retired bishop Edward Daly takes place at St Eugene's Cathedral in Londonderry
The funeral of retired bishop Edward Daly takes place at St Eugene's Cathedral in Londonderry
Catholic retired Bishop of Derry Edward Daly was described as a fearless peace-builder
Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness attends the funeral of Dr Edward Daly at St Eugene's Cathedral in Londonderry

Bloody Sunday priest Edward Daly was a courageous and merciful peacemaker, mourners at his funeral have been told.

The retired bishop of Derry was a young cleric when he raised a bloodstained white handkerchief as a symbol of ceasefire and tried to lead a mortally injured teenager to safety under a hail of Army fire in January 1972.

Irish President Michael D Higgins and Stormont Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness were among the mourners at his funeral at St Eugene's Cathedral in Londonderry, after he died on Monday aged 82.

Current Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown said: "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."

In later life the retired bishop was reluctant to discuss the moment that arguably best symbolised his Christian ministry; in death it has largely defined him.

As a young priest he famously waved the bloodied rag as he led a brave group bearing fatally injured civil rights protester Jackie Duddy, 17, to safety in Londonderry in Northern Ireland on Bloody Sunday.

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.

Two years later Dr Daly was appointed Bishop of Derry. He retired in 1993 due to ill health.

The cathedral was full with a thousand mourners. Up to 25,000 have visited St Eugene's, where the retired bishop has been reposing since his death on Monday.

During the ceremony clergy used the chalice presented to him by the people of his native Belleek in Co Fermanagh in 1957 to mark his ordination as a priest.

A sea of bishops wearing mitres behind a golden cross led the way into the cathedral.

Among them was Catholic Church leader of All-Ireland Eamon Martin - who was ordained by Dr Daly at St Eugene's 29 years ago - and former primate Sean Brady.

Archbishop Martin said: "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."

A papal message lauding his dedication as a peacemaker was read to mourners.

Dr Daly had long friendships with former Church of Ireland primate Archbishop Robin Eames. And he was jointly granted the freedom of Derry with his Anglican counterpart James Mehaffey last year in recognition of their many years of co-operation in building a more united society.

He was buried in the cathedral grounds.

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