By SEWELL CHANNY Times
8 August 2016Father Edward Daly waving a bloodied white handkerchief in a widely circulated picture from Jan. 30, 1972, known as Bloody Sunday. (Credit Mirrorpix)
Edward Daly, who as the Roman Catholic bishop of Northern Ireland’s second-largest city argued relentlessly for peace during the three decades of sectarian violence known as the Troubles, died on Monday in Derry. He was 82.
His death, at Altnagelvin Area Hospital, was announced by Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry, the diocese that Bishop Daly led from 1974 to 1993, when he stepped down after having a stroke. (The city, officially Londonderry, is commonly known by its shorter name.) He was hospitalized after a fall several weeks ago.
“Bishop Daly served, without any concern for himself, throughout the traumatic years of the Troubles, finding his ministry shaped by the experience of witnessing violence and its effects,” Bishop McKeown said in a statement.
On Jan. 30, 1972, as a 38-year-old curate at St. Eugene’s Cathedral, Father Daly escorted unarmed protesters on a march toward the city center when British soldiers opened fire, resulting in the deaths of 14 people. The massacre became known as Bloody Sunday.
Images of Father Daly waving a bloodied white handkerchief as protesters tried to carry a wounded man, Jackie Duddy, to safety circulated around the world.
“I went in front with this handkerchief in my hand, and they carried Jackie behind me,” he later told the BBC. “All hell was let loose. We were very nervous and frightened, and when we laid him down on the pavement, he had died.”
He added: “It was utterly disgraceful. There was nothing fired at them — I can say that with absolute certainty because I was there.”
Father Daly later told The New York Times that the massacre fueled the growth of the Irish Republican Army, the paramilitary group that battled British security forces and the unionist segments of Northern Ireland’s population throughout the Troubles.
“Many young people I have talked to in prison have told me they would have never joined the I.R.A. had it not been for what they witnessed on Bloody Sunday,” he said.
In 2010, after a 12-year investigation that cost about 200 million pounds, or $265 million at current exchange rates, “a serious and widespread loss” of discipline among the soldiers was blamed for the massacre.
Britain’s prime minister at the time, David Cameron, apologized, calling the massacre “unjustified and unjustifiable.” The next year, the government agreed to compensate the victims’ families.
Edward Daly was born on Dec. 5, 1933, in the village of Belleek, County Fermanagh, near the border with Ireland. He attended St. Columb’s College, a boys’ grammar school in Derry, before the diocese sent him to the Pontifical Irish College in Rome to prepare for the priesthood.
He was ordained as a priest in 1957 and appointed a curate in Castlederg, County Tyrone; in 1962, he was named a curate at St. Eugene’s, the Roman Catholic cathedral in Derry, and he was ordained a bishop in 1974.
As bishop, he repeatedly denounced waves of violence. In 1976, he deplored a firebombing that destroyed much of Londonderry’s shopping district, and in 1987, he stopped church funerals for I.R.A. men after one service was turned into a paramilitary display by republican gunmen.
On Oct. 24, 1990, the I.R.A., threatening to kill his family if he did not obey, forced Patrick Gillespie, 42, a Catholic kitchen worker at a British Army base, to drive a van containing explosives into a military checkpoint outside Derry.The retired bishop Edward Daly in Derry, Northern Ireland, in 2014. He died on Monday at the age of 82. (Credit Brian Lawless/Press Association, via Associated Press)
The attack, one of three “proxy bombs” that day, killed Mr. Gillespie and five soldiers. At a Mass attended by Catholics and Protestants, Bishop Daly said the killers had “crossed a new threshold of evil.”
“They may say they are followers of Christ,” he said. “Some of them may even still engage in the hypocrisy of coming to church, but their lives and their works proclaim clearly that they follow Satan.”
Bishop Daly was equally unsparing in his criticism of the British authorities. After prosecutors moved to quash the murder convictions of six Catholics who said they had been coerced into confessing to the 1974 bombings of two bars in Birmingham, England, he said in 1991, “The justice system in Britain has problems, and it must face up to those problems.”
The same year, he expressed alarm about the covert recruitment of I.R.A. members by the British security services; some were found out and killed.
The Troubles largely ended in 1998 with the Good Friday Agreement, which provided for self-government in Northern Ireland with power sharing among its political factions.
The agreement also set out the principle that Northern Ireland would remain part of the United Kingdom until a majority of people in both Northern Ireland and Ireland wished otherwise.
Bishop Daly, who is survived by two sisters, spent his retirement as a chaplain to the Foyle Hospice in Derry and as archivist for the diocese.
He wrote two memoirs, “Mister, Are You a Priest?” (2000) and “A Troubled See: Memoirs of a Derry Bishop” (2011).
In the 2011 book, he questioned the Vatican’s policy on priestly celibacy. “I think priests should have the freedom to marry if they wish,” he told the BBC, expressing worries about a shortage of priests.
On Monday, religious and secular leaders, Catholic and Protestant alike, mourned Bishop Daly’s death.
Bishop Kenneth Good of Derry — of the Church of Ireland, which is part of the Anglican Communion — praised him “for unwavering Christian leadership and guidance when it was desperately needed in this city and community, during the darkest days of the Troubles.”