Catholic Church denies bomb atrocity cover-up

The Catholic Church today insisted it did not cover-up the Claudy bomb atrocity by moving a suspected terrorist priest out of Northern Ireland.

Cardinal Sean Brady said the transfer of Fr James Chesney to Donegal did not stop authorities arresting or questioning him over the IRA's July 1972 triple car bomb outrage.



In a statement issued along with Bishop of Derry Seamus Hegarty, the senior clerics said they accept the Ombudsman's findings and conclusions.



The churchmen said it was shocking that a priest should be suspected of involvement in the village attack which killed nine people, including a young girl, and injured 30.



"This case should have been properly investigated and resolved during Father Chesney's lifetime," the Catholic leaders said.



"If there was sufficient evidence to link him to criminal activity, he should have been arrested and questioned at the earliest opportunity, like anyone else.



"We agree with the Police Ombudsman that the fact this did not happen failed those who were murdered, injured and bereaved in the bombings."



The clerics said all known Catholic Church material was handed over to investigators from the Ombudsman's office.



They said church figures challenged Fr Chesney at the time about his alleged activities, which he denied.



And they repeated the Ombudsman's findings that there was no evidence of criminal intent on the part of any Church official over the transfer of the priest to the Republic.



Cardinal Brady and Bishop Hegarty said the Church reported back to then secretary of state William Whitelaw the outcome of the questioning of Fr Chesney.



The churchmen added: "We can never lose sight of the terrible human cost of this atrocity.



"Nine people died, including children. Many were injured. Many more were rendered homeless or had businesses destroyed or damaged. The entire community of a small rural town was traumatised by a horrific attack on innocent people."



They urged anyone with information on the bombing to come forward.



"Fr Chesney is dead and, as a suspect in the Claudy bombing, he is beyond the justice of earthly courts," they said.



"Clearly a number of people were involved in the planning and carrying out of this terrible atrocity, some of whom may still be alive. Those bereaved and injured deserve to know the truth."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor