Bloody Sunday priest, Bishop Edward Daly, dies age 82
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Bloody Sunday priest, Bishop Edward Daly, dies age 82

BISHOP Edward Daly died this morning aged 82. He had been in poor health since his retirement. 

"It is with deepest regret that I announce the death, this morning, of Bishop Edward Daly, Bishop Emeritus of Derry", read the statement from Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry.

Bishop Daly is most well-known for his role in helping protesters gunned down by British soldiers during Bloody Sunday, in 1972.

"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; through this dreadful period he always strove to preach the Gospel of the peace of Christ," said Bishop McKeown.

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Father Daly in 1972 (Picture: BBC Still) Father Daly in 1972 (Picture: BBC Still)

An image of Father Daly, before he became a bishop, waving a white handkerchief as the body of a Bloody Sunday victim was carried away, became one of the most iconic images of the Troubles.

Today, a mural in the North shows the violent scene.

The body was that of John 'Jack' Duddy. Jack Duddy was the first to be shot and was killed by a single bullet to the chest on January 30, 1972 in the Bogside area of Derry, in Northern Ireland.

Gerry Duddy, brother of John 'Jack' Duddy, stands in front of a mural depicting his brother being carried to safety as Father Daly waves a white handkerchief in Londonderry, Northern Ireland on June 11, 2010. Jack Duddy was the first to be shot and was killed by a single bullet to the chest on January 30, 1972 in the Bogside area of Londonderry, in Northern Ireland. The Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday will be published on June 15, 2010 after 12 years and a cost of ?190 million pounds (275 million dollars, 230 million euros), the 5,000-page report examines the events of January 30, 1972 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, when 13 civilians were shot dead by British soldiers at a civil rights march. Another man died later from his wounds. AFP PHOTO/ Peter Muhly (Photo credit should read PETER MUHLY/AFP/Getty Images) Gerry Duddy stands in front of a mural depicting his brother being carried to safety as Fr Daly waves a white handkerchief (Photo: PETER MUHLY/AFP/Getty Images)

The Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday was published in June 15, 2010 and Bishop Daly was present to hear the findings and the historic statement by then Prime Minister David Cameron who apologised for the killing or injury of those who were clearly fleeing or going to the assistance of others who were dying.

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Fourteen people were killed in total.

David Cameron said: "I know that some people wonder whether, nearly 40 years on from an event, [if] a prime minister needs to issue an apology. For someone of my generation, Bloody Sunday and the early 1970s are something we feel we have learnt about rather than lived through.

"But what happened should never, ever have happened. The families of those who died should not have had to live with the pain and the hurt of that day and with a lifetime of loss.

"Some members of our armed forces acted wrongly. The government is ultimately responsible for the conduct of the armed forces and for that, on behalf of the government, indeed, on behalf of our country, I am deeply sorry."

Bishop Daly was born in Belleek, County Fermanagh, in the Diocese of Clogher, on 5 December 1933.

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After primary education in Belleek, he attended second level education in Saint Columb’s College, Derry.  From there, he was sent, as a student for the Diocese of Derry, to prepare for priesthood in the Pontifical Irish College, Rome.

Bishop Daly was ordained on 16 March 1957, a priest of the Diocese of Derry.  His first appointment was as a Curate in Castlederg, Co Tyrone.

In 1962, he was appointed as a Curate in Saint Eugene’s Cathedral, Derry.  In 1973, he was appointed Religious Advisor to RTÉ, Dublin.  In 1974, he was ordained Bishop of Derry, where he served until serious illness compelled him to retire in 1994.

In retirement, despite poor health, until earlier this year Bishop Daly continued to serve as a Chaplain to the Foyle Hospice, Derry.

Both Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness have tweeted their condolences. 

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Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry said:

Bishop Daly provided an example of priestly ministry which was exemplary, inspired by service of God and the people he encountered.  His ministry was characterised by his deep love of the people of this diocese, his dedicated visitation of parishes and his constant availability to others.  The bishops, priests and people of the diocese were blessed to have such a dedicated and faithful priest among them"

Funeral arrangements for Bishop Daly will be announced later.