Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

'Anger' at suspension of bomb probe

The police decision to suspend an investigation into the 1972 bombing in Claudy which killed nine people has angered relatives of the victims, said Assembly member Tom Elliott

A police decision to suspend an investigation into a notorious bombing that claimed nine lives has left relatives of the victims "frustrated and angry", it has been claimed.

Assembly member Tom Elliott, who accompanied the families to a meeting with detectives to discuss the probe in the 1972 attack in Claudy, Co Londonderry, said Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable Matt Baggott owed the relations a full explanation.

The PSNI today confirmed that the investigation into the outrage, which was widely blamed on the IRA even though the organisation never claimed responsibility, was suspended due a lack of evidence.

As well as the nine dead, who included three children, 30 people were injured when three car bombs shattered the tranquility of the quiet village in July 1972 at the height of the Troubles.

A 2010 report by then Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson exposed a damning cover-up between state and church in the wake of the bombing that led to a prime suspect - Catholic priest Father James Chesney - being protected from prosecution.

The cleric has since died but others were suspected of involvement in the attack.

Ulster Unionist Mr Elliott raised concerns that political considerations had continued to influence and undermine the investigation.

"The news that the police have suspended the investigation due to a lack of evidence and information was met with a mixture of frustration and anger," the Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA said of the families' meeting with detectives.

"Claudy is often referred to as the forgotten atrocity."

He added: "The victims of Claudy deserve an explanation from the Chief Constable on the handling of this entire case and we will seek an immediate meeting."

A PSNI spokeswoman said: "Police can confirm that we met with Tom Elliott and members of the families to update them on the investigation and to inform them we have completed our enquiries identified from a review.

"As a result, the investigation is currently suspended until such times as new information or evidence is received.

"Police would continue to appeal to anyone with information to come forward so that the people responsible for this atrocity are brought to justice."

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