Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Catholic Church pressed to release any Claudy files

The Catholic Church has been challenged to make public any files it contains on the alleged role of a priest in the bombing of Claudy by the IRA in 1972.

The call was made by DUP MP Gregory Campbell whose East Londonderry constituency includes the village which was the scene of one of the worst atrocities of the Troubles.

Three car bombs tore through the village on July 31, 1972 killing nine people including nine-year-old Kathryn Eakin.

Mr Campbell said if the church was willing to release files on the Ballymurphy massacre of 1971, as it did last week, it should also come forward with any information it has regarding Claudy.

Mr Campbell spoke out following Friday’s publication of internal Catholic Church documents relating to events over three days in Ballymurphy, west Belfast, which left 11 people dead.

“I think it would be very interesting to know if there are similar files on what happened in Claudy in July 1972,” he said.

“If these files also exist they should be regarded as evidence and handed over to the authorities. They should also be made public.

“No-one has ever been made accountable for what happened in Claudy, no one has been brought to justice for that massacre.”

One of the chief suspects in the bombing was Co Derry priest, Fr James Chesney. Following the atrocity, he was moved out of Northern Ireland to a parish in Co Donegal. He died in 1980 having never been interviewed by the RUC in relation to the attack, despite allegations he had driven the car containing the bomb.

Mr Campbell said he did not support a public inquiry into Claudy.

“I don’t think there is anything to be gained from this,” he said.

“After Saville and its enormous cost, the idea of public inquiries has been tainted.

“The police file on Claudy remains open, however, and I repeat, anyone who can throw fresh light on what happened should come forward.

The Belfast Telegraph attempted to contact the Catholic Church last night but there was no response.

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