Authorities colluded to protect
THE RUC, the Catholic
Church and the British government colluded to
protect a priest suspected of being involved the
1972 Claudy bombing, a new report has found.
Fr James Chesney was moved to Raphoe and then to the
farthest reaches of the Derry diocese - Malin Head -
when he came under suspicion.
The Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman report
published yesterday said the police decision to seek
the assistance of the Catholic hierarchy and the
British authorities failed those who were murdered,
injured and bereaved in the bombing.
Nine people, both Protestants and Catholics, were
killed in three explosions on July 31 1972 in what
was one of the worst atrocities of the Troubles.
Ombudsman Al Hutchinson said: "Iin the absence of
explanation, the actions of senior RUC officers, in
seeking and accepting the (British) government's
assistance in dealing with the problem of Fr
Chesney's alleged wrong-doing, was by definition, a
A joint statement from
Cardinal Sean Brady and Bishop Seamus Hegarty
yesterday said: "Fr. Chesney is dead and, as a
suspect in the Claudy bombing, he is beyond criminal
investigation and the justice of earthly courts.
"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. We appeal to
anyone who has information in relation to this
horrific crime to provide it to the Police Service
of Northern Ireland."
Meanwhile, the Church of Ireland diocese of
The late Fr James Chesney
Derry and Raphoe
welcomed the publication of a Police Ombudsman's
A spokesperson for the diocese said: "The
indiscriminate bombings that took the lives of nine
people in the quiet village of Claudy were a brutal
act. The events of that day brought pain and
suffering that cast a long shadow over the lives of
many families in the Claudy area." For more on Fr Chesney's time in Inishowen