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Cardinal denies Claudy cover-up

by Gregg Ryan Ireland Correspondent

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Moved south: Fr James Chesney PA

Moved south: Fr James Chesney PA

THE Bishop of Derry & Raphoe, the Rt Revd Ken Good, has welcomed the publication of the Northern Ire­land Police Ombudsman’s report into the Claudy bombing of 1972. The report implicates the Revd James Chesney, a Roman Catholic priest, in the bomb­ing, in which nine people were killed.

The Ombudsman’s report cited evidence to support the claim that Fr Chesney was transferred out of the diocese into a parish in County Donegal about six months after the bombing.

Bishop Good has called for a continued pursuit of the truth. “It is right that the truth should come out now. Those who were so cruelly bereaved or injured on that day deserve no less.”

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, Cardinal Seán Brady, and the current Bishop of Derry, Dr Seamus Hegarty, have both denied that the Church was involved in a cover up. Fr Chesney died in 1980 without ever having been questioned by the Royal Ulster Constabulary. They said that all known material in the possession of the Church had been made available to the Ombuds­man.

A statement from the Cardinal read: “It is shocking that a priest should be suspected of involvement in such violence. This case should have been properly investigated and re­solved during Fr Chesney’s lifetime. . .

“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 Cath­olic Church did not engage in a cover-up of this matter. As the Ombudsman finds in his statement, the Church was ap­proached by the Secretary of State [William Whitelaw] at the instigation of senior members of the RUC.”

He said that the Church sub­sequently reported the outcome of its questioning of Fr Chesney to Mr Whitelaw. “The actions of Cardinal Conway or any other Church auth­ority did not prevent the possibility of future arrest and questioning of Fr Chesney” who, until his death, “is known to have regularly travelled across the border, but was never ar­rested, questioned, nor further invest­igated by the RUC”.

On Tuesday, a Church of Ireland spokesman praised the dignity of the bereaved as they continued to seek justice. “The events of that day brought pain and suffering that cast a long shadow over the lives of many families in the Claudy area.”

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