Cardinal Daly is laid to rest today

POLITICIANS, academics and community leaders from throughout mid-Antrim and far beyond have paid glowing tributes to Cardinal Cahal Daly whose funeral takes place today (Tuesday).

The former Catholic Primate of all-Ireland, Cardinal Daly died on Thursday, December 31, three days after being rushed to the coronary unit of Belfast City Hospital.

His body was carried to the door of St Patrick’s Cathedral by GAA captains from the county and into the church by six priests from the archdiocese.

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His remains lay in state there until his funeral today.

SDLP North Antrim MLA Declan O’Loan described Cardinal Daly as “a very distinguished scholar” and a man who ‘gave great leadership’ as a Bishop, an Archbishop and then as Primate.

He said: "Cardinal Daly is held in very high regard and is greatly respected in his home area of Loughgiel and throughout North Antrim. He has close relatives in County Antrim and the thoughts of the community are with them at this time.

"Cardinal Daly gave great leadership as Bishop of Down and Connor and then as Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. There was great pride locally that he held such high office with such distinction.

"He gave great leadership to the community at a time when the Troubles were at their height, and he was resolute in his condemnation of violence”.

Presbyterian Moderator Dr Stafford Carson said: “An outstanding academic, Cahal Daly will always be remembered for the huge contribution he made to the developing of better relationships between the Protestant and Roman Catholic Churches. His County Antrim roots, of which he was always proud, gave him a deep understanding of the essential part that Presbyterians have played in the history of our community, something he was always happy to explain to others.”

Dr. Carson added: “Completely and totally opposed to violence he was an outspoken critic of the armed campaign of the IRA and recognised that any future arrangements for the governance of Northern Ireland had to involve Unionist and Nationalist, Protestant and Catholic in order to create a community in which everyone could feel at home.”

Born in Loughguile, County Antrim, on 1 October 1917, Cardinal Daly was archbishop of Armagh and primate of All Ireland in the early 1990s.

He was made a cardinal in 1991. He retired in 1996 aged 79 and returned to his study of philosophy.

First Minister Peter Robinson was criticised over the weekend for not releasing a statement of condolence on the cardinals death.

The DUP leader released a statement on Sunday, saying he "been indisposed due to family issues".

Last week, Mr Robinson's wife Iris, the MP for Strangford, announced she was quitting politics because of an ongoing battle with severe depression.

"I am acutely aware of the high esteem with which Cardinal Daly was held by many throughout the community," the first minister said.

"He was consistent in his opposition to the use of violence to advance political objectives.

"Cardinal Daly's passing has caused immense grief for many in the community who looked to him for spiritual and theological guidance and my thoughts are also with them at this time."

Before Mr Robinson released the statement, former Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon had said he was surprised there had been no comment.

Former Church of Ireland primate Lord Eames also said he was disappointed by the lack of a statement by Mr Robinson.