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Bloody Sunday bishop to be awarded freedom of the city

Iconic: The images of Daly waving the white rag were seen around the world
Iconic: The images of Daly waving the white rag were seen around the world

A retired Catholic bishop who waved a blood-stained white handkerchief during Bloody Sunday is to be awarded the freedom of the city where the shootings took place.

Dr Edward Daly provided one of the grimly iconic images of the Troubles as he brandished the rag while attempting to help a fatally injured civil rights protester in Derry, Northern Ireland, in January 1972.

British paratroopers had opened fire and killed 13 demonstrators. Fourteen were injured and another was to die later.

Dr Daly has recalled: "All hell was let loose."

The cleric was then a curate aged 39 at St Eugene's Cathedral in Derry.

On Bloody Sunday, he joined the march as it passed the cathedral en route to the city centre. He was near John "Jackie" Duddy, 17, when he was shot and anointed him and gave him the Last Rites.

Fr Daly and other marchers attempted to bring him to safety. The priest led the way with a handkerchief in his hand. He has told the BBC soldiers were firing bullets in all directions, people running every way amid scenes of chaos.

The killings were the subject of a probe shortly afterwards which victims branded a whitewash.

Another judge-led investigation concluded that the men were innocent.

The Saville Inquiry cost £195 million and was the longest-running and most expensive inquiry in British history.

In his evidence to Saville, Bishop Daly said he felt a personal duty to do what he could to establish beyond doubt the innocence of those whose deaths or injuries he witnessed on Bloody Sunday.

The inquiry said the Army had fired the first shots on Bloody Sunday and was to blame for what happened.

Prime Minister David Cameron branded the killings "unjustified and unjustifiable".

Tonight's ceremony will take place in the Guildhall in Derry. It also recognises retired Church of Ireland Bishop Dr James Mehaffey in honour of the clerics' contributions to the city over the past five decades.

The decision to confer the freedom of the city on the bishops was made at a Derry City Council meeting last month.

The honour was was awarded to Nobel Laureate and peace process architect John Hume in 2000.