Belfast Telegraph

Call for new Claudy probe after IRA bombers named

By Suzanne Breen

A politician injured in the Claudy bombing is demanding that the PSNI immediately re-opens its investigation into the IRA atrocity after the emergence of vital new evidence.

And Mary Hamilton said she wants to meet Ivan Cooper – a former civil rights leader who has come forward with information that victims hope will lead police to resume their inquiries into the 1972 attack.

"Ivan Cooper has revealed he knows the identities of four men involved in the bombing. Two still live locally. It is a matter of urgency that the Chief Constable now re-opens this investigation," Ms Hamilton said.

"No stone must be left unturned in pursuing the bombers. The police cannot allow these men to freely walk the streets. We as victims deserve justice even if it comes 41 years late," the Ulster Unionist added.

The DUP and the TUV last night also demanded that the investigation be re-opened. The SDLP said if the Chief Constable believed the information was new, the police must take action.

Ms Hamilton, a councillor in Londonderry, was injured when one of the three IRA car bombs exploded outside the hotel her family owned in Claudy.

"I have shrapnel in both my legs and I suffer every day," she said. "My friend's husband David Miller was killed. She could identify him only by the buttons she had sewn on his coat that morning. We will never cease in our efforts for the truth."

Last month, police suspended their investigation into the bombing which left nine dead. They told the families it would be re-opened only if new information came to light.

Mr Cooper, a former Stormont MP and SDLP co-founder, revealed two weeks ago that shortly after the atrocity one of the bombers had broken down and confessed everything to him.

The politician set up a meeting between the guilt-ridden bomber and the then RUC Chief Superintendent for Derry, Frank Lagan. But the information relayed to police about the bombing was never acted upon. Chief Supt Lagan died in 2005.

Mr Cooper has named four people allegedly involved in the bombing. Two of them still live in Co Londonderry. One is a retired primary school teacher. No-one has ever been charged in connection with Claudy.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell said: "There is more than enough evidence to re-open this investigation. Claudy remains an open sore for the unionist community.

"Hundreds of millions of pounds were spent on Bloody Sunday while 10 miles away the Claudy families still search for justice."

Ulster Unionist Minister Danny Kennedy said: "The public interest dictates that this investigation be re-opened. It is essential that Ivan Cooper, and anyone else with information, co-operates with the police."

TUV leader Jim Allister said: "Pursuing these bombers is an urgent policing priority. The Claudy investigation should never have been closed."

SDLP Assembly member John Dallat said: "If the Chief Constable assesses that Ivan Cooper's information is new, then the investigation should be re-opened. It's never too late whether it is Claudy or Greysteel. These investigations should also be about pursuing the architects behind the attacks, not just the foot-soldiers."

BACKGROUND

Three no-warning car bombs exploded in Claudy on July 31, 1972, killing nine people, including three children. The IRA has never admitted responsibility. A now dead Catholic priest, Fr James Chesney, was involved in the atrocity. The bombers tried to ring warnings from telephones which weren't working due to previous bomb damage to the phone exchange.

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