Northern Ireland

Reaction to Police Ombudsman's report on Claudy bomb

A conspiracy involving the police, the Catholic Church and the state covered up a priest's suspected role in one of the worst atrocities of the NI Troubles, an investigation has found. Below is some of the reaction to the report...

CARDINAL SEAN BRADY, LEADER OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN IRELAND

"Throughout the Troubles, the Catholic Church, along with other Churches in Northern Ireland, was constant in its condemnation of the evil of violence. It is therefore shocking that a priest should be suspected of involvement in such violence.

"This case should have been properly investigated and resolved during Father Chesney's lifetime.

"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."

OWEN PATERSON, NI SECRETARY OF STATE

"The Claudy bombing was a terrible atrocity carried out by terrorists during the bloodiest year of the Troubles.

"I absolutely condemn the actions of the terrorists who were responsible.

"It was a despicable and evil act carried out by despicable and evil people."

"My anger at the actions of those responsible for the attack is matched in strength by my sorrow that the survivors of the atrocity and the relatives of the dead did not see those responsible brought to justice for their crimes."

In a statement, Mr Paterson also said: "For my part, on behalf of the Government, I am profoundly sorry that Father Chesney was not properly investigated for his suspected involvement in this hideous crime, and that the victims and their families have been denied justice."

IAN McCREA, DUP ASSEMBLY MEMBER

"This attack marked one of the worst IRA bombs where nine people were murdered, five of whom were Roman Catholics, in what was the worst year of what is now called 'the Troubles'.

"This report will make uncomfortable reading for the victims of this bombing and my heart goes out to them.

"The role of the Catholic Church in the IRA campaign has long been questioned with suspicion by many in Northern Ireland.

"This report goes a long way in heightening these suspicions and raises many questions over the role of the Church and what it knew about the involvement of its priests and other clergy in the facilitation and running of the IRA campaign."

FRANCIE MOLLOY, SINN FEIN ASSEMBLY MEMBER

"The deaths in Claudy were wrong and should not have happened. The families of those who died or were injured deserve and are entitled to the truth about the deaths of their loved ones.

"They have the same right to know as the families of those killed in Ballymurphy, Springhill and the New Lodge. Sinn Fein support them in this.

"The inquiry by the Police Ombudsman was into the nature of the RUC investigation.

"Due to its limited remit it could never deliver the truth about the circumstances surrounding the bomb for the families of those killed.

"It is our view that what is required is an independent international truth commission which all participants in the conflict could participate fully in. This is a mechanism which could actually get to the truth and deliver closure for the families."

JIM ALLISTER, LEADER OF THE TUV

"Whereas the overriding event, in terms of its sheer vileness and butchery, was the IRA's murderous bombing of Claudy, the Ombudsman's Report reveals a staggering trilogy of shame, deception and cover up reaching to the heart of the Roman Catholic Church and government, both at Westminster and Stormont.

"For all its piety and protestations that 'murder is murder' it is now clear the Catholic Church, in order to protect an IRA priest, was complicit in covering up mass murder in Claudy."

STEPHEN FARRY, ALLIANCE ASSEMBLY MEMBER

"This is a most troubling report which sheds light not just on one of the worst atrocities of the Troubles but also more directly on how the incident was handled by the authorities and by the Catholic Church.

"While society has moved on dramatically and with in particular a new spirit of accountability, there are issues for the Government and the Church to respond to and to address.

"The Police Ombudsman by definition only look at certain aspects of incidents in the past. This report reinforces the need for a much more comprehensive process for dealing with the legacy of the past in a manner that promotes reconciliation and a shared future."

BRENDAN McALLISTER, COMMISSION FOR VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS

"The bereaved and injured of Claudy will be further distressed by the disturbing truth that they were denied justice.

"What the Police Ombudsman has not done - and cannot do - is explain the thinking of people at the highest levels of authority at that time.

"In this respect the report illustrates some of the shortcomings of current arrangements for dealing with the past. It is not enough to reveal bitter facts alone.

"There is a pressing need for mechanisms which allow for deeper examination of the events of the past."

MARK DURKAN, SDLP FOYLE MP

"The report by the Police Ombudsman into the bombs in Claudy in 1972 is extremely damning.

"We need to remember first and foremost this atrocity was entirely the responsibility of the IRA.

"The travesty that happened then in relation to the investigation clearly is deemed by the Police Ombudsman to be an act of collusion.

"It is evident from this report that wrong decisions were made and the police investigation was undermined.

"This not only betrayed the victims' families but also betrayed the diligent investigatory officers in the RUC at the time who wanted to follow where the evidence led."

SIR REG EMPEY, LEADER OF THE UUP

"Today my thoughts are primarily with the families of the bereaved who have been denied justice.

"The findings of the Ombudsman's report makes for depressing reading. It is clear that certain actions of the RUC and the secretary of state were wrong and should not have happened.

"Questions remain however as to whether the RUC were acting independently or whether they were under political direction? However, we should never forget who the perpetrators of this atrocity were.

"The statement made by Cardinal Brady is, unfortunately, entirely inadequate.

"In particular, the absence of an apology to the victims of Claudy falls very far short of what should be expected of church leaders in the exercise of their position of moral authority."

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