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Bloody Sunday priest honoured for his iconic actions

NewsBy Kevin Palmer
Mayor of Derry, Councillor Brenda Stevenson welcomes Right Rev Dr James Mehaffey (left), retired Bishop of Derry and Raphoe and Most Rev Dr Edward Daly (right)
Mayor of Derry, Councillor Brenda Stevenson welcomes Right Rev Dr James Mehaffey (left), retired Bishop of Derry and Raphoe and Most Rev Dr Edward Daly (right)

The retired Catholic bishop who gained worldwide acclaim as he waved blood-stained white rag during Bloody Sunday massacre has been honoured with the freedom of Derry.

Dr Edward Daly was at the centre of one of the more grim images of the Troubles as he brandished the rag (below) 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 in one of the more infamous incidents of the Troubles.

Dr Daly has served in the city since 1962 and was delighted to be recognised for his service.

He said: "I was shocked and terrified during the years of conflict, those years provided me with great challenges that I found daunting and sometimes shocking, sometimes terrifying."

He told Derry City councillors during his acceptance speech in the city's Guildhall that his experience over five decades had taught him that people can do more together than apart.

"Difference should be seen as enriching rather than threatening. There is a rich tapestry of cultures here and each of them has made an important contribution to who we are and what we are and each of these should be cherished by us all."

Stormont's Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness attended the ceremony.

The Saville report into Bloody Sunday found he was present at the time of the violence and "probably armed with a sub-machine gun" but did not engage in "any activity that provided any of the soldiers with any justification for opening fire".

Mr Hume and Foyle MP Mark Durkan were also present for the council sitting.

All council members, dressed in flowing purple ceremonial robes, and visitors stood and applauded after the awards were made.

SDLP councillor John Boyle proposed the freedom honour and said: "Bishop Daly exhibited real courage on Bloody Sunday and his undoubted bravery in many situations was to become a constant theme throughout his ministry and after it."