Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

'Someone doesn't want the Claudy truth to come out'

Relatives' fury at decision to halt bombing probe

The aftermath of the bomb explosion in Claudy in 1972

A decision by police to suspend the investigation in to the Claudy bomb atrocity has been met with anger by survivors and victims' relatives.

Nine people, including three children, were killed when three bombs exploded in the quiet Co Londonderry village in July 1972.

As well as the nine people murdered, more than 30 people were injured in the blasts.

More than 41 years on there is frustration that nobody has ever been brought to justice over one of the most notorious acts of Troubles violence.

It was widely blamed on the IRA, even though the organisation never claimed responsibility.

Last night, a police spokeswoman confirmed "the investigation is currently suspended until such times as new information or evidence is received".

The youngest victim of the Claudy bombings was eight-year-old Kathryn Eakin.

Last night, her brother Mark Eakin told the Belfast Telegraph suspending the investigation "stinks".

"It's ridiculous, it has made me angry," he said.

"We were told the police would do everything in their power and they would keep us updated and then we find out this.

"The whole thing has been a disaster from day one; I think someone higher than the police doesn't want to let the truth of Claudy out.

"From what I gather, the police have a list of names, so how in under God they can't do something is beyond me."

In 2010, a Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman's report said detectives had concluded that the late Father James Chesney, who died in 1980, was a suspect.

It said the police, the state and the Catholic Church had covered up Fr Chesney's suspected role.

Mark Eakin explained the pain for Claudy survivors and relatives is still strong and that anyone who would say they should move on needs to think again.

"A lot of people who say that haven't had a member of their family slaughtered," he added.

Marjorie Leslie, who survived the bombs, said she was shocked to find out the police decision through the media.

"I'm disappointed," she said.

"I don't know how things will be moved forward – the people who hold the key are not going to talk.

"It's one of the facts of Northern Ireland – Claudy will be left a ghost."

Marjorie told this newspaper she is still waiting for a face-to-face meeting with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who was a senior IRA leader in Derry at the time.

"Hopefully it's in the pipeline," she added.

UUP Councillor Mary Hamilton, who ran a hotel in Claudy with her husband Ernie, was injured in one of the blasts.

"I'm just devastated," she said.

"We met with the police on Friday and thought we were going to hear something positive.

"It has rocked us to the bottom."

Mrs Hamilton said she believes there have been a "lot of cover-ups" and feels let down.

"I feel what is happening is wrong," she added.

"We feel forgotten.

"We owe it to the victims, we owe it to the families to keep going."

She also said victims would like a face-to-face meeting with PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott.

"I have shrapnel in my legs and I am in pain every day," she added.

"I tell people it's the legacy of the IRA. I am appealing to the chief constable to meet with us.

"He owes us that much."

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Justice for Innocent Victims of Terrorism, which represents a number of the Claudy families, has expressed its deep disappointment and has issued a further call for anyone with information about the 'heinous atrocity' to come forward.

A statement added: "Claudy was a crime against the community perpetrated by the Provisional IRA and it is essential that those responsible are held publicly and personally accountable for their actions."

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