Address by Cardinal Cahal B. Daly at the presentation of his collected addresses on Peace in Northern Ireland to the Linen Hall Library, Belfast

28 Jan 2005






The following text was delivered by His Eminence Cardinal Cahal B. Daly at the
presentation of his papers to the Political Collection Archive in the Linen Hall
Library in Belfast today. The contents are a personal collection of the Cardinal’s
speeches and homilies regarding peace in Northern Ireland.

Copies of the Cardinal’s papers will also be available in Queen’s University Belfast,
where they will be part of the Cardinal’s personal library which he is bequeathing
in its entirety to Queen’s University Library.

Cardinal Daly said: “From the beginning of the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland I
believed that the recording and analysis of the ongoing conflict and the preservation
in one location in an easily accessible form of all documents relating to it, would
be of great historical importance. In this connection, I admired the initiative of
the Linen Hall Library in setting up its Political Collection. Indeed, for a time,
I sent copies of some of my addresses to the Collection. In time, however, this
practice lapsed. Hence I decided to make a collection of texts of my own relating
to the conflict; and bound copies of these make up the 9 volumes which I am
presenting to the Political Collection in the Linen Hall Library today.
Copies will be available also in Queen’s University Belfast, where they will be
part of my personal library which I am bequeathing in its entirety to Queen’s
University Library.
I became bishop in 1967 and retired in 1996. My 29 years of active episcopal
ministry coincided broadly with the years of what we have come to call ‘The Troubles’,
which are usually dated between 1969 and 1994. From the beginning, I felt that
the Church’s response to the Troubles was going to be an important criterion of
the relevance of the Church in Irish society in the 20th century. It seemed to
me important that the Church’s voice should be heard, addressing the moral questions
raised by the Troubles, such as: the question of the moral legitimacy of violence;
the question of justice and equality in society and of human rights; the problems
of deprivation and exclusion which can foster violence; the sectarianism which
so polarises Northern society and which motivated the loyalist campaign of violence
against Catholics, running in tandem with the republican campaign of violence; the
question of the moral conditions governing the State’s use of violence to counter
anti-state violence.
In a society where there is virtually no cross-community consensus regarding the
causes of the conflict or regarding the terms in which it might be resolved,
anyone speaking or writing about the situation was bound to be “heard” differently
and diversely interpreted by one or other community or interest-group.   My own
approach was based on the conviction that a church person like myself must avoid
any suspicion of being a mouthpiece for one or other political tradition, and
should take his stand only on the ground of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. At the
same time, I was conscious that what I was saying was likely to be “overheard”
by people of a different religious or political background, or what we would
commonly call “the other persuasion” or “the other community”.  Consequently,
anything one said or wrote should, I believed, “speak” to that “other community”
also, and should show awareness of their convictions, their sensitivities, their
rights.   One had to resist any danger of being regarded as the “ethnarch” of
a politico-sectarian community, rather than a minister of the Christian Gospel.   
Otherwise, one would only be creating or consolidating division, rather than
working for reconciliation through mutual understanding. That stance itself
was, of course, 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”.   
Where feelings run high and community resentments are strong on “both sides”,
truth itself becomes an early casualty.  St.  Paul wrote of “speaking the
truth in love”, and that is what the Christian pastor must always seek to do.   
Whether or to what extent I succeeded in doing so is for others to judge,
not me.   This is part of the reason for my presenting these volumes to the
Linen Hall Library as part of its Political Collection. If anyone is interested,
the unadulterated text is here to be examined. I am happy to let the record
speak for itself.”

Cardinal Cahal B. Daly
Archbishop Emeritus of Armagh
Further information:
Martin Long Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Brenda Drumm Communications Officer (087 233 7797)