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Cardinal Daly: Critic of IRA who sought to build bridges

By Stephen McCaffery

Cardinal Cahal Daly was a senior figure in the Catholic Church in Ireland throughout the Troubles and was best known during his time in office as an outspoken critic of the IRA.

The 92-year-old led the Irish Church as the Primate of all Ireland from 1990-96, but as the Bishop of Down and Connor from 1982 onwards he was based in Belfast at the heart of the long-running conflict.

Aged 73 at the time of his appointment as Catholic Primate, the scholarly figure was a surprise choice, but he went on to play a prominent role in Ireland's political life and in efforts to build bridges between its Christian Churches.

Cahal Daly was born in the Co Antrim village of Loughguile, close to the famous glens, on October 1, 1917.

The third of seven children, and the son of a schoolteacher, he once said he could not remember a period of his life when he did not aspire to the priesthood.

He was ordained in 1941 and while he rose to become a high- profile figure, he was a surprise choice to replace his predecessor as Primate, the late Cardinal Tomas O Fiaich.

Cardinal Daly was the oldest man to be Irish Primate in 170 years at the time of his appointment.

He was seen to be a leading intellectual in the Irish Church and was credited with writing the appeals for peace made by Pope John Paul II when he visited Ireland in 1979.

Cahal Daly became a Cardinal in 1991 and retired in 1996 at the age of 79, at which time he returned to his study of philosophy and theology.

His time in office as a bishop and then as the Archbishop of Armagh was dominated by the decades of violence in Northern Ireland.

An opponent of violence and a critic of the IRA in particular, he condemned the republican group after two British soldiers were dragged from their car, beaten and shot dead after apparently straying into the path of an IRA funeral in west Belfast in 1988.

He also, however, sought to boost efforts to bring an end to violence and encouraged the Government to welcome the moves towards an IRA ceasefire in 1994.

Belfast Telegraph


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