Fury as Cardinal Daly defends Claudy bomb suspect
A victim of the Claudy bombing has criticised Edward Daly after the retired bishop said the priest accused of masterminding the IRA atrocity deserved a presumption of innocence.
Mary Hamilton accused Bishop Daly of “rubbing salt in the wounds” of Claudy’s victims after he cast doubt on Fr James Chesney’s involvement in the 1972 massacre.
Nine people were killed and more than 30 injured when three no-warning bombs exploded in the Co Londonderry village.
Last week a Police Ombudsman’s report found that high-level talks led to Fr Chesney, the chief suspect, being moved to Co Donegal.
However, Bishop Daly said yesterday he “felt obliged” to speak out, saying he is “not convinced at all” that Fr Chesney was involved in the triple car bombing.
“The once sacrosanct presumption of innocence has been dispensed with and replaced with a presumption of guilt,” he said.
His comments, made in a newspaper article, were later issued by the Catholic Church’s Press office.
Last night Mrs Hamilton, who was seriously injured in the bombing, said Bishop Daly’s comments were inappropriate.
“People want an apology from the Catholic Church — not this,” she said.
“These comments will just rub salt in the wounds. If Fr Chesney was innocent, he should have stayed put while the Catholic Church should have defended him, instead of letting him go to his grave as a guilty man.” Meanwhile DUP MP Gregory Campbell claimed Bishop Daly was “living in denial” about Fr Chesney’s role.
“These comments do not assist the families of those killed at Claudy in getting any closer to closure — instead they make it more difficult. “There are three groups who can assist in bringing about that closure by offering an apology — the Prime Minister and Government, the Catholic Church and the surviving Provisional IRA bombers.
“In reality, Bishop Daly seems to be the first person to decline to step up to the mark.”