Belfast Telegraph

Pain and anguish of Claudy never-ending

Editor's Viewpoint

There are many songs written about Northern Ireland's Troubles; far too many of them glorifying those who brought unending grief and horror to thousands of doorsteps, far too few remembering those slaughtered by terrorists who didn't even know their name.

But there is one song that puts that horror in perspective. It is The Ballad Of Claudy by the poet and songwriter James Simmons. Poets have the ability to make telling comments with an economy of words, and Simmons is no exception.

If you read his words today, 45 years since nine people were killed when three bombs exploded in the Co Londonderry village, they still conjure up the image of those who were going about their everyday business until death swept along the street.

Last night 300 people gathered at an ecumenical service to remember the dead and injured. The memory of that atrocity has passed down generations, at least one of which was not alive on that fateful day. That is the legacy terrorism has bequeathed Northern Ireland: anger, hurt, gnawing grief, unanswered questions.

This was not a noble struggle as some would have us believe, but a squalid conflict so shameful that the bombers, believed to be members of the IRA and including a Catholic priest, could not even bring themselves to admit responsibility for Claudy.

Just as their loved ones could not escape the bomb blasts and shrapnel which took their lives, so their relatives cannot banish from their minds what happened that day. They cannot forget the young girl who never had the chance to grow up and have children of her own, or the man who was taken before he could give his daughter away on her wedding day.

Then there is the man who is now so worn out by trying to establish the truth of who killed his father that his health has suffered and his son now bears his anguish.

Deep in their hearts, the bereaved know that they will never learn the full truth of what happened on that day 45 years ago. Certainly, they will never get justice either.

But like so many other bereaved, they wonder why they cannot get some recognition for what they have endured. Every time politicians seem to be edging towards a mechanism to aid the bereaved, some crisis intervenes and their hopes are dashed again. The immediate relatives of those killed may die, but the pain endures, infecting more lives.

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