The Freedom of Derry will be conferred on Bishops Edward Daly and James Mehaffey at a special ceremony later this month, after the council unanimously endorsed the honours.
The move was agreed at a special meeting of Derry City Council in the Guildhall on Tuesday afternoon.
They were and still are leaders of our society and they continue to work towards the betterment of our society today.SDLP Colr. John Boyle
The ceremony will take place during a meeting of the council on Thursday, March 24th at 7.30pm.
John Kelpie, chief executive of Derry City Council, said preparations would now begin at once to arrange the formalities and “suitable hospitality” for afterwards.
Each of the two retired bishops will be presented with scrolls and official photographs will be taken during the ceremony, which is expected to take place in the Council Chamber.
The conferring of the Freedom of the City is expected to be the final major achievement of Derry City Council before it is wound up and replaced by the new Derry-Strabane supercouncil taking over on April 1st.
The motion for the move was put forward by SDLP Councillor John Boyle, and seconded by his party colleague Angela Dobbins.
Colr. Boyle said both men would be “worthy recipients” of the honour.
He also outlined the careers of both and praised the two men for their individual and joint contributions to the peace process, community relations and to society in general.
“They were and still are leaders of our society and they continue to work towards the betterment of our society today,” he said.
Former Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Dr Mehaffey, was described by Colr. Boyle as a “great shepherd of the people”.
He also said that former Catholic Bishop of Derry Dr Daly would forever be remembered for the role he played in what was to become Bloody Sunday, and described him as a “gentleman, a caring man, an extremely modest man”.
Sinn Fein Councillor Elisha McCallion also paid tribute to Fermanagh native Dr Daly and spoke of how he had a long association with Derry from his days as a boarder at St Columb’s College through to his service locally as a priest in the 60s and early 70s and as a Bishop from 1974 on.
Colr. McCallion also praised Bishop Mehaffey, stating that he has “always had an affinity with the poor and disadvantaged”,
DUP Councillor Gary Middleton said his party would be delighted to support the motion.
“We all recognise the work both gentlemen have been involved in,” he said.