Claudy IRA bombings: PSNI defends investigations, including four arrests

Kathryn Eakin filling a bag of potatoes outside her family store in Claudy where she was later killed by an IRA bomb, aged eight. (M McLaughlin).
Kathryn Eakin filling a bag of potatoes outside her family store in Claudy where she was later killed by an IRA bomb, aged eight. (M McLaughlin).

A Claudy bombing victim says he is “not surprised” that the PSNI has failed to explain why it is refusing to let families have access to 20 boxes of ‘new’ evidence on the case.

A triple IRA bomb attack killed nine people in the Co Londonderry village on July 31, 1972, where a simple remembrance ceremony took place this week.

In 2010 the police ombudsman reported that the RUC, Northern Ireland Office (NIO) and Catholic Church covered up the suspected role of South Derry IRA commander and Catholic priest, Fr James Chesney. Six years after its report the ombudsman became aware of a further 22 boxes of police evidence.

James Miller, whose grandfather David was murdered, said the church, NIO and PSNI are refusing to let the families see the files. When asked why, all three said they cannot comment due to the ongoing legal actions to secure access.

However, Assistant Chief Constable George Clarke did issue a statement. “First and foremost I recognise the continuing distress being felt by Mr Miller and want to acknowledge the pain and suffering that he, and all of the victims of the Claudy bombings, continue to feel,” he said. “They have suffered as a result of the Troubles and, understandably, they continue to seek answers.”

Police have given “significant resources” and pursued all lines of inquiry he said. Between 2002 and 2003, a review resulted in the arrest of three men and woman. A file was sent to the PPS, which directed no prosecution.

ACC Clarke said the Claudy bombings case currently sit with Legacy Investigation Branch and will be reviewed again along with 1,400 deaths in accordance with LIB’s Case Sequencing Model.

The PSNI is committed to helping build “a safe, confident and peaceful society” which he believes will ultimately be best served through the Historical Investigations Unit, under the Stormont House Agreement, he said.

Some witnesses were reinterviewed in 2013/14 but no new evidence was obtained. It was explained to the families that all investigative options had been exhausted at that time, he added.

However Mr Miller said he was “not surprised” at the statement and that there was “nothing new” in it.