UUP presses Catholic church to compensate Claudy bomb families

The UUP has called on the Catholic Church to compensate Claudy families for the alleged role of Fr James Chesney for a bomb attack on the Co Londonderry village.

Monday, 13th September 2021, 6:30 am
Updated Monday, 13th September 2021, 8:52 am
Some of the carnage after the 1972 triple IRA car bomb attack which claimed nine lives and injured 30 in Claudy, Co Londonderry

Nine people, including a young girl, were killed and 30 others injured by three IRA car bombs in 1972.

Three of their families took High Court action against the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), PSNI and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Derry.

Last week their law firm said a settlement has been reached with the NIO and the PSNI, but that the legal action continues against the diocese.

The legal action came after a Police Ombudsman’s report in 2010 found that a Catholic priest, the late Father James Chesney, was a suspect.

The report said police, the state and the Catholic Church covered up his suspected role in the bombing and moved him to Donegal to avoid inflaming the security situation.

In 2010, then-secretary of state Owen Paterson said the Government was “profoundly sorry” that the families had been denied justice.

In a party statement, Derry City and Strabane UUP Alderman Darren Guy welcomed that the NIO and PSNI have both agreed to compensate the families.

“The news that the NIO and PSNI have agreed to pay damages to those families who had relatives murdered in Claudy in 1972 is to be welcomed but is too little, too late for many of the families,” he said.

“The despicable scheme which was hatched to remove suspected bomber and Catholic Priest Father James Chesney from the jurisdiction was wrong and those involved in the cover-up were a disgrace to the roles that they were entrusted to administer.

“Chesney was also believed to have falsified evidence to protect another accomplice suspected of carrying out the callous murder of innocent men, women and young children including Kathryn Aiken who was only eight-years-old and 16-year-old William Temple.

“It is a sad indictment of the society in which we live that the truth was hidden from the families by three of the bodies that people are supposed to place faith in. The NIO and the Police have at least now compensated the families.

“I find it hard to understand how the Catholic Church still cannot see fit to apologise to the Claudy families. I would urge the Catholic Church to apologise unreservedly and compensate those families in an attempt to heal some of the wounds that were caused by one of their priests on that fateful August day in 1972. It’s the least they can do.” The Catholic Diocese of Derry was invited to respond.

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