BELFAST — THE appointment of Bishop Cahal Daly as leader of Ireland's 3 million Roman Catholics on Nov. 6 has been widely acclaimed by churchmen and politicians on both sides of the border. He is an intellectually formidable churchman of conservative views who has won the respect of many of Northern Ireland's 1 million Protestants. Bishop Daly, who was born and raised in Northern Ireland, has had more contact with northern Protestants than any of his leading Catholic counterparts.
In a carefully worded statement, James Molyneaux, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, which calls for retaining the link with Britain, said: ``I personally feel it is helpful to have a Roman Catholic primate with long-standing experience in a northern diocese, and one who has an understanding of the attitudes and feelings of people in this part of the United Kingdom.''
British Secretary of State Peter Brooke said, ``The Bishop is widely respected throughout Northern Ireland for his resolute condemnation of violence, his concern for individual well-being, and his long-standing efforts to bring about reconciliation.
Bishop Daly has been a fierce opponent of violence from all sides, and he has been particularly scathing about the outlawed Irish Republican Army. ``I have always held that the greatest harm that the IRA can do in the Catholic community is to weaken the sense of the absolute sacredness of human life. They injure the Catholic community spiritually even before they injure it physically,'' he said recently.