Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: ‘Hidden tragedy’ of Claudy laid bare

In today’s Belfast Telegraph, Mark Eakin, the brother of Kathryn Eakin who was killed in the Claudy bombings of 1972, has written one of the most graphic, harrowing and intensely moving accounts of family and community bereavement in the entire history of the Troubles.

The details of these terrible incidents have been reported elsewhere, over the years, but few have been so vivid, or as intimate and heartbreaking as this account by Mark Eakin about the enduring grief of his family at the appalling murder of his sister so long ago.

As he notes, so perceptively, “Kathryn is always eight years old.”

In doing so, he has captured the frozen horror of the other families and of the entire Claudy community who have known such suffering, but have never found justice.

Mr Eakin emphasises that he is not asking for a “hugely expensive enquiry” into those awful events.

But he states clearly, eloquently, and with total justification, “We must find a way to resolve these matters and to give people some form of justice.”

In many ways, this has been the “hidden tragedy”.

Unlike the aftermath of Bloody Sunday, there has been no major enquiry, and no powerful upsurge of public and political opinion from all sides in demanding that justice is done in the wake of Claudy.

Instead there has been a sorry and depressing catalogue of missing files, mysterious gaps in knowledge and the almost unspeakable reality of one of the main terrorist suspects — Father James Chesney — being spirited across the border to Donegal by a British Secretary of State and a Cardinal Prince of the Roman Catholic Church.

Such a reality is almost impossible to comprehend today, and it is extremely difficult to bear.

Why did this happen?

How could it happen?

These are important questions which must be answered another day, and at the very highest levels.

The people of Claudy deserve no less.

This is something which Mark Eakin rightly demands, and the moral strength of his painful but powerfully persuasive search for the truth is inescapable.

However, he has also given us a remarkable personal insight into the reality of suffering which stays with individuals and families for years, when the headlines have long moved on.

His story is the story of every family which has suffered in the long litany of the Troubles.

As such, it is required reading for all of us, so that the carnage of Claudy and of so |many other places will never be allowed to happen again.

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