Amid the tributes, don’t lose sight of the opponent of the physical force tradition

Apologies to Eamonn for this separate post. For some reason I can’t add comments to exisiing posts at the moment. Some years ago, I enjoyed a long reminiscence with Cardinal Daly in St Patrick’s Cathedral. His personal warmth was genuine rather than formal. Fortunate not to have been in office for the peak of the abuse scandals, he was a conventional ecclesiastical conservative. But even at faraway Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, he spoke out on the Troubles. Labelled the Mekon by republican critics (quite funny actually) after Dan Dare’s wizened little alien enemy, he drew clearer boundaries for republican activism than his south Armagh predecessor as primate and spoke out more directly than his equally scholarly but more dessicated Down and Connor predecessor William Philbin. While he was politically adroit, he lacked that exaggerated fear of internal criticism that afflicts so many clerics of all denominations. It’s impossible to imagine either of those predeccessors saying as he did that he was “doomed to be seen by some as a betrayal of one’s own community” and a dereliction of one’s pastoral duty towards “one’s own people”. Although cordially disliked by the Sinn Fein establishment who were wary of him throughout, he encouraged their involvement in the fledgling peace process. Amid the formal tributes, Martin McGuinness has been forthright enough to recall at least some of the mutual antagonism. Cahal Daly eserves to be remembered as the most distinguished Catholic prelate of our times, who at 73 unfortunately came to the top job one primatial term too late. It was as if the Vatican had belatedly realised that Cardinal O’Fiach’s sympathies with a republican analysis needed counterbalancing after so many of the Church’s appeals for peace had been rebuffed. If they did, they chose the right man and the choice seemed to bear fruit. As the Irish Times obit records, he maintained a difficult balance.

In January 1995, he made his own striking gesture to the cause of reconciliation between Britain and Ireland. Invited to become the first Irish Catholic Church leader to speak from the pulpit of Canterbury Cathedral since the Reformation, he used the occasion to ask the British people for forgiveness for the wrongs and hurts inflicted upon them by the Irish people. He also warned British politicians that political expediency should not be allowed to jeopardise the peace process.

However his frustration was evident after the failure of Church leaders to mediate a solution to the Drumcree Orange parade stand-off in July 1995. Using language of anger and betrayal, which he has always tried to avoid, he said the decision to force the parade down the Garvaghy Road had “totally shattered” mutual trust and confidence between Catholics and the RUC.”

  • Pete Baker

    Brian

    The Guardian obit makes some, similar, and important points

    Neither as a churchman nor as an Ulster Catholic did he fit any stereotype. He was socially progressive, but theologically conservative, intellectually ecumenical, but convinced that the official stance of his church on moral issues was alone coterminous with the common good.

    His forthright, courageous and sustained opposition to violence did him great credit, as did his frank recognition of unionism as a legitimate component of reality in Northern Ireland – it would be difficult to find an equally strong assertion of nationalist legitimacy by a Northern Irish Protestant prelate. Yet, when it came to encouraging an endeavour of manifest benefit towards reconciliation of the communities in the north, like the setting up of inter-denominational schools, the cardinal withheld his blessing.

    These contradictions in no way detracted from his stature, but rather underscored the teeth-gritting will-power needed in a man of his background to break loose from the sensitivities of an aggrieved people. If he did not travel the whole road, he travelled further than many.

  • Mr Crowley

    Daly has to have been complicit in the cover-up of clerical abuse in Ireland. There is simply no way that he could have headed the Catholic church in Ireland and not have been party to the information and decision making.

  • Alias

    The problem with making appeals to authority to support your own political stance in an obituary – apart from it being distasteful and inherently disrespectful to the decease – is that the authority is based on his position within an institution that has little authority left intact.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I appreciate that it is important to respect the dead. However, some people think that respect means that we must talk up qualities of a person that were never there. Tony Blair, for example, said something about Daly’s huge contribution to peace, but I don’t remember anything that Daly did specifically did in this area, in fact his staunch opposition to integrated education suggests the opposite.

    People are talking about Daly’s compassion and warmth of personality. My recollections, insignificant that they are (I never met him but I did see him up close a few times), are of a distant, cold person, and supremely arrogant and self-righteous over the position of the Catholic Church. I also find it very hard to believe that he knew nothing about the sexual abuse scandals that have now become well known.

    That’s why I think Martin McGuinness’ comments are the most appropriate out of all of those I have heard from public figures.

    It’s worth reading Bishop Pat Buckley’s story about his various interactions with Daly.

  • Mr Crowley

    There’s a line in a Christy Moore song ‘dry old men of cloth and silk’ and to me that always epitomised Daly. I despised him and his condescending manner although I suppose I owe him a debt of gratitude in that he inspired me to question Catholicism and ultimately reject theism.

  • John O’Connell

    On what grounds do you delete my post?

  • John O’Connell

    Comrade Stalin

    Your open hostility to the Catholic Church gives away the Alliance party game. It also reveals why the Alliance Party has never cut it with the Catholic population, because its sympathies lie in the British direction ethnically and culturally. You really should call yourselves unionists with a sneaky admiration for the British way of life and a contempt for the culturally superior (in many ways) Irish way of life.

  • John O’Connell

    This was also a time when a fierce struggle was going on in Belfast between the Catholic Church and Sinn Fein for the hearts and minds of the people, particularly those Catholics living in West Belfast. The SDLP, due to years of harassment from republicans, had a very weak presence on the ground in West Belfast, and the Catholic Church was feeling threatened by the strong growth in support for Sinn Fein.

    Led by the late Bishop Cathal Daly, the Catholic church there took a very hard-line stance against republican violence and this often led to walkouts from mass and other protests. As I lived in South Belfast, I relied on the media for the stories of friction between republicans and the Catholic Church. However, there were many in my own circle who felt that Bishop Daly was going over the top in this struggle. A traditional approach might have been to be more patient with his flock, and their wanderings.

    I freely admit to have not considered that Cathal Daly might have been acting on my “numbers” discovery during this time. However, having considered it now, it would certainly go some way in explaining the persistence and vigour of Bishop Daly in this struggle and why he seemed so oblivious to the risks of alienating his flock in the longer term. Nevertheless, despite the concerns of many Catholics about his approach in West Belfast, Bishop Daly was appointed Cardinal Archbishop of Armagh and leader of Ireland’s Catholics in 1991 and this was seen by many as a reward for fighting the battle in his diocese.

    Perhaps the priests at St Columb’s had been interested by Ian Paisley’s number, such that they checked out all the other big names. Adams became leader of Sinn Fein years after my Ian Paisley discovery and perhaps the Church got there before me and had taken significance from the two names. I don’t obviously know the answer to this possibility, but I feel that Bishop Daly’s highly intellectual mind would have been hostile to Sinn Fein without the “numbers.” I cannot as easily explain however his promotion to Armagh.

  • Alias

    Folks forget that the Catholic Church opposed the right of the Irish nation to national self-determination, supporting only emancipation. They opposed Home Rule, denouncing Parnell at every turn, and they opposed the War of Independence with the historical record littered with statements from a plethora of Catholic hierarchy condemning it. So “Cardinal O’Fiach’s sympathies with a republican analysis” were an aberration from the Church’s traditional support for British sovereignty over Ireland with Cardinal Daly’s support for a process that consolidates British Rule being consistent with that norm.

  • Slartibuckfast

    [i]he used the occasion to ask the British people for forgiveness for the wrongs and hurts inflicted upon them by the Irish people[/i]

    Definitely gay.

  • Mr Crowley

    he used the occasion to ask the British people for forgiveness for the wrongs and hurts inflicted upon them by the Irish people

    Definitely gay.
    Posted by Slartibuckfast on Jan 01, 2010 @ 07:20 PM

    Probably started out as an altar boy, ‘groomed’ for the church from an early age. Despicable little man.

  • heamaisbharney

    “So “Cardinal O’Fiach’s sympathies with a republican analysis” were an aberration from the Church’s traditional support for British sovereignty over Ireland with Cardinal Daly’s support for a process that consolidates British Rule being consistent with that norm.” alias

    And the bishop of Kerry, Moriarty, I think was his name, said that hell wasn’t hot enough or eternity long enough for the Fenians.

  • joeCanuck

    Get real JOC; your imaginings are getting the better of you. It is not, never was, and never will all be about you.

  • John O’Connell

    JoeCanuck

    Indulging your favourite obsession?

    Why wouldn’t it be all about me?

  • Grassy Noel

    He said what needed to be said, and repeated it over and over again.

    The republican physical force approach was a sin, was an abomination, was horrific and flew in the face of every and any sermon IRA leaders and members listened to as they attended mass each week.

    A giant of a man. Sorely missed.

  • Mr Crowley

    #

    He said what needed to be said, and repeated it over and over again.

    The republican physical force approach was a sin, was an abomination, was horrific and flew in the face of every and any sermon IRA leaders and members listened to as they attended mass each week.

    A giant of a man. Sorely missed.
    Posted by Grassy Noel on Jan 01, 2010 @ 11:16 PM

    British rule in Ireland has been all of the above and more yet Daly sucked up to the British. The crimes of the Catholic clergy in Ireland were all of the above and more yet Daly stayed silent. Fuck Cathal Daly and his parasite church; he was nothing but a willing participant in the exploitation and degradation of the Irish people.

  • Paddy

    Several posters here are not taking their medication. Leaving Mr Crowley to one side, Comrade Stalin’s contribution seems to consist of telling us that he saw daly from a distance and could tell he was a bad man. He also cites pat Buckley, an obviously disturbed man, and Martin McGuinness, a man with a very dark past, so support his screed.

    Daly did not stand up to the IRA gangsters and his written work was, for an Irishman, of a high standard. I met his cousin, a nun and a nice woman. (Vincentian)