Obituary: Bishop Edward Daly

Bishop Edward Daly of Derry, known for his tireless advocacy for peace and reconciliation during decades of sectarian tension in Northern Ireland, died Aug. 8 in a hospital in Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

Bishop Daly, who retired in 1993 due to ill health after suffering a stroke, was 82. He had suffered from cancer.

He first came to prominence in a photograph from Bloody Sunday in 1972, when 14 civil rights protesters were shot dead by the British army in Londonderry. For decades, the victims were accused of being terrorists. However, in 2010, an independent inquiry ruled that all the victims and the injured, had been unarmed and that those killed had been killed unlawfully.

Bishop Daly worked tirelessly with the families to clear their names and ensure that an independent inquiry would overturn the allegations that they were terrorists.

After Bishop Daly was named to the Diocese of Derry in 1974, he campaigned for the British authorities to build houses for the Catholic community and frequently denounced injustices suffered by Catholics at the hands of the authorities. At the same time, he denounced paramilitary violence aimed at British troops and the police in Northern Ireland.

At a national level, Bishop Daly was a key member of the Irish bishops’ conference and served as its spokesman for many years. In 1975 he established the first Catholic Communications Office. He also helped organize the 1979 papal visit of St. John Paul II.

Pastorally, he took a particular interest in the welfare of prisoners and their families and was a frequent visitor to jails.

In retirement, Bishop Daly continued to work, ministering in the Foyle Hospice, where he served as chaplain until 2015.

He also published two books of memoirs. He provoked debate in 2011 when he wrote in his latter volume of memoirs that “there will always be a place in the Church for a celibate priesthood, but there should also be a place for a married priesthood in the Church.”

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