Page last updated at 16:10 GMT, Sunday, 3 January 2010

Robinson issues Cardinal Daly condolences

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The remains of Cardinal Daly were moved to St Peter's Cathedral on Saturday

First Minister Peter Robinson has issued a statement of condolence on the death of Cardinal Cahal Daly.

The DUP leader had been criticised for not releasing such a statement since the former Catholic Primate of All-Ireland died on Thursday.

However, Mr Robinson said he had "been indisposed due to family issues".

The body of the late cardinal was moved on Sunday to Armagh from Belfast where he had been lying in state. He will be buried in Armagh on Tuesday.

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."

Earlier, former deputy first minister Seamus Mallon said he was surprised Mr Robinson had not yet issued a statement.

Mr Mallon said it seemed hard to believe it was an oversight of the first minister's staff.

Cardinal Daly died on Thursday, three days after being rushed to the coronary unit of Belfast City Hospital.

"Disappointed"

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

"I think there are occasions when as a leader, in that position you're supposed to represent the feelings of the entire community," Lord Eames said.

"I would hope that before long that would be rectified. I think people would have expected some recognition of the death of a leading churchman."

Former SDLP deputy leader Mr Mallon added: "I'd like to think the office of first minister, and I know something about it, would be very efficient.

"I just can't believe that those very good officials would not have presented the first minister with a statement which he might issue."

On Sunday afternoon, the remains of the late cardinal were moved from St Peter's Cathedral in west Belfast, where he had been lying in state, to St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh, where he will be buried on Tuesday.

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.



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