Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Cross-border access for Claudy bomb probe urged

Almost a year since the publication of the Police Ombudsman’s report into the Claudy bombing, the brother of the youngest victim has called for greater powers to be given to bodies investigating historical crimes.

Mark Eakin’s sister, Kathryn, was just nine years old when she was killed along with eight other people when three car bombs exploded without warning in the village.

As part of his fight for justice, Mr Eakin wants access to the Irish Republic to be given to officers conducting the investigation into the Claudy bombing.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, he said: “We have cross-border co-operation on everything now as well as international co-operation.

“I know there are people living in the Irish Republic who have knowledge about what happened in Claudy on July 1972, but the PSNI have no access to them.

“There is some co-operation between the Garda and the PSNI but it is limited and does not allow officers from one jurisdiction to interview or question people outside of their own particular jurisdiction.

“The border was used to great advantage by those hiding from the law here and that is still the case — but I think it is time that advantage was taken from them and they discovered there is no safe haven for them.

“The people with the best knowledge of any case are those who are directly involved with the investigation, so it makes sense that questioning important figures in that investigation is not handed over to a third party.”

The Police Ombudsman, Al Hutchinson, published his findings of the original investigation into the atrocity last year. It concluded that the police, the Catholic Church and the state covered up Father James Chesney’s suspected role in the atrocity. No action was taken against Fr Chesney who died in Donegal in 1980.

Mr Eakin says there has been too much emphasis on Fr Chesney and he wants all available information made known.

“Fr Chesney’s move into the Irish Republic is a case in point of what I am saying about the border being used but I believe he was a convenient focus because he is long dead,” he said.

“If the police were able to travel to America and interview someone there about Claudy I don’t see why they cannot travel across our own border.

“My main concern is getting justice for the victims of Claudy but I know there are so many others who are in the exact same boat as us.”

Background

Claudy is a village with a mixed Protestant and Catholic population, six miles south-east of Londonderry. Nine people were killed after three car bombs exploded on July 31, 1972. The victims were from both communities; the youngest was nine-year-old Kathryn Eakin and the oldest was 65-year-old James McClelland, who was killed when the third bomb exploded, as he helped the injured. No organisation claimed responsibility, but the IRA were assumed to be behind them.

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