Nick Benson

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Hero priest named as one of UK’s most influential people

The former Catholic Bishop of Derry, Dr Edward Daly, whose photograph became the iconic image of Bloody Sunday, has been added to a prominent list of the UK’s most influential people.

Bishop Daly has been included in the latest update of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, which added the biographies of 228 men and women who have had a lasting effect on the UK, and who died in 2016.

A native of Belleek, Co. Fermanagh, Bishop Daly famously waved a bloodstained white handkerchief as a symbol of ceasefire as he attempted to escort a fatally injured demonstrator to safety during the Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry on 30th January 1972.

Paratroopers had opened fire and killed 13 people. Fourteen were injured, and another was to die later.

Bishop Daly was ordained on 16th March 1957, a priest of the Diocese of Derry. His first appointment was as a Curate in Castlederg, Co. Tyrone, and in 1962, he was appointed as a Curate in St Eugene’s Cathedral, Derry.

It was during this time Dr Daly, then a 39-year-old curate, took part in the civil rights marches and had first-hand experience of the Battle of the Bogside in 1969, the early Troubles and the events of Bloody Sunday and Operation Motorman.

The image of the then-Fr Daly waving a bloodstained white handkerchief as he led a group carrying a dying 17-year-old John ‘Jackie’ Duddy as he sought aid for the wounded teenager, is one of the most famous images from the massacre and is known throughout the world. The priest was near Duddy when he was shot by soldiers and anointed him and gave him the Last Rites.

Years of controversy have surrounded Bloody Sunday and the decision of the troops to open fire. “I felt a responsibility to tell the story of what I saw and what I saw was a young fella who was posing no threat to anybody being shot dead unjustifiably,” said Bishop Daly.

Dr Daly served as Bishop of Derry from 1974 to 1993, when serious illness compelled him to retire.

Dr Daly was a consistent voice on social justice and peace issues. He also helped organise the papal visit of St John Paul II to Ireland in 1979 and, in 2015, he received the Freedom of the City of Derry. He died on 8th August 2016, aged 82.

Picture: A Bloody Sunday Bogside mural showing a white handkerchief being waved by Fr Edward Daly as the body of Jackie Duddy was carried from where he was shot in the courtyard of Rossville Flats. (Liam McBurney/PA).

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