“Our country has lost one of its brightest lights and most able sons, who played a vital role in promoting reconciliation, peace and justice at a critical moment in our history,” said Archbishop Sean Brady of Armagh, Daly’s successor as head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, in a January 1 statement.
Cardinal Daly, who died in hospital on December 31, was to be buried on January 5 in the grounds of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh, following a
From 1990 until his retirement in 1996 on his 79th birthday, Daly was archbishop of Armagh, the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland. He held the title of primate of All Ireland and was leader of the Catholics both in the Republic of Ireland, and in Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who in 1998 helped broker an end to the three-decade long conflict, praised the Irish cleric, saying, “Cardinal Daly made a significant contribution to delivering peace as he worked to break down barriers between communities.”
Daly had previously been bishop of Down and Connor, the diocese that includes Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland. Throughout the 1980s, and on his subsequent appointment to Armagh, he was seen as a persistent critic of those seeking to use violent means for political objectives.
“It is no secret during the conflict that republicans and Cardinal Daly never enjoyed a close relationship,” said Martin McGuinness, Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister, and a leader of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, which waged a violent struggle for a united Ireland.
The (Anglican) Church of Ireland archbishop of Armagh, Alan Harper, said on January 1, “During the most challenging of times the cardinal gave wise and courageous leadership. He was a fearless and forthright champion of peace and justice, always speaking out unambiguously on community issues during the darkest days of the Troubles.”
A number of scandals in Ireland’s Catholic Church, notably the revelation that then-Bishop of Galway Eamon Casey had fathered a child and the emergence of allegations of child sex abuse by clergy, however, marred Daly’s period as primate of All Ireland.
Cardinal Daly denied at the time that there had been a cover-up of abuse cases, the U-TV news Web site reported. Guidelines were introduced for bishops shortly before he stepped down from office on the grounds of his age.
The moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the Rev. Stafford Carson, praised the cardinal’s contribution to ecumenism in Ireland. Carson said Cardinal Daly had “a deep understanding of the essential part that Presbyterians have played in the history of our community.”
Daly was born in County Antrim in October 1917, the third of seven children. He was educated at St Malachy’s College in Belfast and the Irish National Seminary in Maynooth, County Kildare where he obtained a doctorate in divinity in 1945. He subsequently studied in Paris, and in 1946 he was made a lecturer in scholastic philosophy at Queen’s University Belfast.