Belfast Telegraph

Claudy relatives want to learn from Omagh's fight for justice

BY DONNA DEENEY

Relatives of Claudy bomb victims are planning to meet with relatives of the Omagh atrocity in their pursuit of justice.

Police have told the Claudy families that the probe into the massacre was being brought to a halt unless new evidence was found.

This has enraged relatives of the nine murdered and dozens injured when the three no-warning bombs exploded in Claudy, Co Londonderry in July 1972.

In August 1998 29 people, and unborn twins, were murdered in a bomb explosion in Omagh.

Shrapnel is still in Mary Hamilton's leg from when she was hit as she tried to give assistance to those hurt in the first explosion.

She said the families think they could benefit from meeting with the Omagh bomb families.

The ex-deputy mayor of Derry, whose family owned the Beaufort Hotel where one of the three Claudy bombs exploded, said: "There are obvious similarities between what happened in Claudy and what happened in Omagh.

"No-one has been held accountable for either atrocity and in both towns the victims were innocent people from both sides going about their daily business.

"The police have abandoned the Omagh families and they have abandoned us as well but like them we will not let that hinder our pursuit of the truth.

"One of the options we are considering is setting up a formal meeting with the relatives of the Omagh bomb because we feel there is so much we could learn from them."

Mark Eakin, whose sister Kathryn was the youngest victim of Claudy said he believes there are still avenues the police could investigate.

He added: "The police could go back and to the people who perverted the course of justice in the first instance. Anyone who withheld information, harboured criminals or failed to take statements. Go after these people now and prosecute them for perverting the course of justice and see if that helps them recollect anything. I think a lid had been put on Claudy; they have deliberately shut the door but all we want to know is, 'Why Claudy? What the hell went wrong?'"

The Police Ombudsman reported into the Claudy atrocity three years ago. Shortly after, Deputy First Minister, Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness, said he was willing to meet the families. They questioned his insistence that he did not have any knowledge of who was responsible for planting the bombs in the village at a time when he was an IRA leader in Derry.

Mr McGuinness previously said what happened was wrong. He said: "The events that day were appalling and indefensible.

"All of the deaths and injuries inflicted on totally innocent people in this quiet village 40 years ago should motivate everyone in our society to ensure such terrible tragedies never happen again."

The meeting with the families never took place. Yesterday he repeated his offer.

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