Democratic Unionist, Gregory Campbell has called on the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, to apologize for the collusion to conceal Father James Chesney's involvement in the IRA bombing of the village of Claudy, County Derry, in July 1972.
A police ombudsman's (overseer) report found that the authorities and the Catholic Church had full knowledge of the priest’s involvement in the bombing and murder of nine people. However the priest was not questioned or charged but was instead removed from the area and placed in a parish in Donegal where he died in 1980.
Campbell said that the family of the nine victims deserved a full apology, similar to that received by the families of the victims of Bloody Sunday.
He said "Claudy happened just months after Bloody Sunday. The government spent almost £200m on that…The very least the prime minister could do is go to the despatch box and apologize for the cover-up.”
A professor of politics at Queen's University, Rick Wilford, says that the release of the report has "the potential to cause disruption” in the Northern Irish community as the Real IRA and other groups have been unusual active in their attacks of late.
Instead of arresting the Catholic priest involvement in the crime directly after the bombing the ombudsman conferred with the Catholic Bishops and the British government. He was placed in a parish in Donegal, in the Republic. The ombudsman's report found that they failed the victims of the bombing. The inaction was deemed a "collusive act" by Al Hutchinson, the author of the report.
Chesney died in 1980, in Donegal, of cancer. He was never questioned about the bombings. The police involved in the case are also now dead. The report said "Had they been alive today their actions would have demanded explanation.”
It added the “morality or the rightness of the decision taken by the government and the Catholic Church is another matter entirely and requires further public debate”.
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