Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Is it too much to ask for the truth?

The people of Claudy have borne the horror of the explosion which killed nine people in the village nearly 40 years with immense dignity and stoicism.

Even the Police Ombudsman's report into the bombing was tantalising as much as it was revealing. It named a priest, Fr James Chesney, as one of the main suspects and revealed that he was spirited out of the province in an exercise of callous pragmatism by both the Catholic Church and the Secretary of State of the day, William Whitelaw.

But police never questioned the priest and nothing has emerged of who the other bombers could have been. Indeed, the IRA has never formally admitted responsibility, although it did carry out the atrocity. In a new twist yesterday, the deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, a self-confessed IRA leader in Londonderry at the time of the bombing, admits he met Fr Chesney shortly before he died. He described him as a republican sympathiser but said the Claudy bombing was never discussed.

This drip feed of information is only prolonging the agony of those bereaved on that bloody day. Everyone who really has information about the bombing seems more determined to distance themselves from it than to help the relatives of those killed and injured to reach some sort of closure.

The government has offered an apology of sorts but ruled out any inquiry. The IRA remains silent. The Catholic Church continues to dance on the head of a pin by casting doubt on Fr Chesney's involvement, even though Cardinal Conway described him as a very bad man and agreed to move him to a parish in Donegal.

All those parties are shamed by the dignified stance taken by the bereaved. They have every right to be angry and to be disappointed at the collusion between state, police and church to let the prime suspect leave the jurisdiction and later die without ever being questioned. Yet the relatives have refused to be drawn into a sterile blame game, simply stating that they just want to know the truth. Is that really too much to ask?

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