Call for state recognition for heroic Bloody Sunday priest
Call for state recognition for heroic Bloody Sunday priest


Tributes have been paid following the death of the former Bishop of Derry, Edward Daly, who attended to the victims on Bloody Sunday at the risk of his own life. However, his memory has also been subjected to a sickening sectarian attack by a former member of the British Crown forces who claimed to have been present at the massacre.

Dr Daly waved a bloodied white handkerchief as a symbol of ceasefire as he tried to help a fatally injured youth at the civil rights protest in Derry on January 30, 1972. Fourteen died when members of the British Army opened fire, with him in the midst of the attack.

His funeral took place amid widespread accolades for his bravery and dignity. However, a man who claims to have served in the British forces and to have been on duty as an 18-year-old on the day when members of the Parachute Regiment opened fire, branded Daly a “lying IRA-supporting b*****d”.

Allan Woods, who lives in Scotland, provoked public outrage when he described the priest as a “Tague” in a bigoted rant. He added: “Good riddance to the piece of IRA scum” and said he hoped the respected cleric would “rot in hell”.

Daly began serving as a priest in Derry in 1962 before becoming the city’s bishop in 1974. He stood down in 1993 after a stroke. He spent his life working for peace and campaigned against all forms of violence. But Woods claimed: “Watch the footage closely, he was concealing a weapon in the sleeve of his left arm as he led the wounded to an ambulance.”

Daly was near 17-year-old Jackie Duddy, when he was shot and helped attempt to carry him to safety under fire in well-known footage taken on the day of the massacre. Former civil rights leader Hugh McMonagle, who was with him on Bloody Sunday, has called for him to be made a saint. Mr Duddy’s older sister Kay described him as a hero. She said: “He was such a special friend to us because of Bloody Sunday, because of what he did for Jackie in his dying moments when he was there with him, it just meant the world to us that Jackie did not die on his own.”

Relatives of some of the Bloody Sunday victims are now to ask the Dublin government to honour his courage with a posthumous recognition.

“In any other country in the world, people like Bishop Daly – and others – would have been singled out for honours and recognition by governments for the courage they showed on Bloody Sunday,” said Tony Doherty, whose father Paddy was shot dead on Bloody Sunday.

“But here, because of the situation, there has never been any official government honour although Bishop Daly did receive the Freedom of Derry.

“I think it’s time now to change that and to honour Bishop Daly for what he did and for what he did after Bloody Sunday although, sadly, he has now passed on,” Mr Doherty said.

Kate Nash, whose 19-year-old brother William was killed on Bloody Sunday, said: “He knew what happened on Bloody Sunday and said often that it was murder and he understood the struggle for justice.”

In an interview with the BBC after Bloody Sunday, Bishop Daly condemned the army’s actions as “completely outrageous”.

“They were firing lead bullets in all directions. They call themselves an army, it was utterly disgraceful. There was nothing fired at them, I can say that with absolute certainty because I was there.

“The people were running in all directions. Most of them had their backs to them and they just opened fire.”

The man who chaired the Bloody Sunday Inquiry which exonerated the victims of the 1972 killings, described Bishop Daly as a “remarkable man” whose testimony on the events of the day was “very powerful and of great assistance to the tribunal”.

The North’s Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, said Dr Daly was a “huge loss to the city and its people” and “a man of authentic faith.”

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