Northern Ireland news

Families bereaved in Claudy bomb reach settlement with government and police

The memorial in Claudy dedicated to the victims of the 1972 bombing in the village. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Rebecca Black, PA

Families bereaved in an IRA bomb attack in Claudy in 1972 have reached a settlement with the government and the police.

Nine people, including a young girl, were killed and 30 others injured when three car bombs exploded in the Co Derry village in July 1972.

Three of their families took High Court action against the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and the Catholic Diocese of Derry.

David Temple’s brother William Watson Temple (16), James Miller’s grandfather David Miller (60), and Colin McClelland and Tracy Deans’ 64-year-old uncle Thomas McClelland were among the nine killed.

Their law firm, KRW Law, said a settlement has been reached with the NIO and the PSNI, but the legal action continues against the diocese.

The firm said the NIO and PSNI “both agreed a full and final settlement without an admission of liability”.

The amount of the settlement has not been disclosed.

The legal action came after a Police Ombudman’s report in 2010 found that a Catholic priest, the late Father James Chesney, was a suspect.

The report said police, the state and the Catholic Church covered up his suspected role in the bombing.

Fr Chesney was transferred to a parish in Co Donegal, outside Northern Ireland jurisdiction, following secret talks between then secretary of state William Whitelaw and the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal William Conway.

The two men discussed the scandal after being approached by a senior Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer as the police were apparently reluctant to arrest the cleric for fear of inflaming the security situation.

Following the publication of the report in 2010, then-secretary of state Owen Paterson said the government was “profoundly sorry” that the victims of the 1972 Claudy bombing and their families had been denied justice.

In a statement, the Temple, Miller and McClelland families said they look forward to a trial against the Church over the matter.

They added they were “deeply disappointed in the lack of a proper investigation into the murder of their loved ones by the RUC”.

However, they would “like to place on record a sense of appreciation for the mature attitude displayed by the PSNI and NIO during mediation which assisted their understanding of some serious failings by the state”.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said: “I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to the families of all those lost in the Claudy bombings.

“I echo the views of the former secretary of state, the Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP, and, on behalf of the government, would like to restate that I am profoundly sorry that Father Chesney was not properly investigated for his suspected involvement in the Claudy bombing.”

Assistant Chief Constable Jonathan Roberts also responded: "The Police Service of Northern Ireland recognise the continuing distress being felt and acknowledge the pain and suffering that all of the victims of the Claudy bombings, continue to feel. They have suffered as a result of the Troubles and, understandably, they continue to seek answers.

"Out of respect for the privacy of those involved, we will not publicly discuss or comment on the specifics of the case."

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