Pope John Paul II on Tuesday appointed Bishop Cahal B. Daly, a Belfast prelate and staunch opponent of the Irish Republican Army, as archbishop of Armagh and primate of all Ireland.

Daly succeeds the late Cardinal Tomas O Fiaich as the spiritual leader of the 3.7 million Roman Catholics in the Irish Republic and British-ruled Northern Ireland. The cardinal died in May.As the voice of the Catholic Church in Belfast from his post as bishop of Down and Connor, Daly has been a vigorous advocate for the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland and a foe of the IRA.

At 73, Daly is the oldest prelate appointed to the Armagh post in 170 years.