THE CLAUDY BOMBINGS 31 JULY 1972
KRW LAW LLP (KRW) represents three families whose loved ones were murdered in the Claudy Bombings 1971.
David Temple took a High Court action on behalf of his brother William Watson Temple who died aged 16. James Miller took a High Court action on behalf of his grandfather David Miller who died aged 60. Colin McClelland and Tracy Deans took a High Court action on behalf of their Uncle, Thomas McClelland, who died aged 64.
The actions were taken against three defendants: the Roman Catholic Diocese of Derry, the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and the Northern Ireland Office (NIO).
Our clients instructed KRW to discontinue the legal action against the Chief Constable of the PSNI and the NIO who agreed a full and final settlement without an admission of liability. The sum of the settlement is to remain confidential and the PSNI and the NIO have agreed to pay the costs of our clients up to the date of this agreement.
The Plaintiff’s proceedings against the Roman Catholic Dioceses of Derry remain unresolved and will procced.
The PSNI confirmed that as a consequence of its 2002 investigation the following matters were established:
- In a search of papers from 1972, information has been found which indicates that a parish priest in the South Derry area was a member of the Provisional IRA and was actively involved in terrorism. Intelligence also indicates that he was involved in the Claudy Bombings 1971. Records show he provided an alibi for a person suspected of playing a prominent role in the bombings. This priest is now deceased. PSNI do not intend to publicly identify the priest or any other suspect in the Claudy Bombings.
- A PSNI examination of the 1972 material and later material has given its Review Team some understanding of those suspected of involvement in the
- bomb attacks, the part they played and why so many people died at Claudy. We have also tried to discover why no one has been charged. PSNI investigations required them to approach both Roman Catholic Church authorities and the Government to obtain for sight of documents.
- The PSNI investigation revealed that a member of the public briefed a Cardinal and a senior RUC officer on the role of the priest not long after the time of the bombings. The PSNI further discovered papers indicating that in late November 1972 the police briefed NIO officials on some of the priest’s alleged activities.
- In addition, papers were discovered relating to a discussion held on the 5 December 1972 between the Secretary of State at the time, William Whitelaw, and Cardinal Conway. This private discussion occurred at one of the regular meetings that they held to address issues relating to the troubles. On 6 December 1972, the day after the meeting, a briefing letter was sent from a senior NIO official to RUC HQ indicating that the private matter discussed related to the activities of the priest.
- The letter of the 6 December 1972 indicates that the Secretary of State gave the Cardinal a full account of his disgust at the priest’s behaviour and also indicates that the Cardinal knew that the priest was behaving improperly. The letter then stated that the Cardinal mentioned the possibility of transferring the priest to County Donegal. By January 1973 police reports show that the priest had not been seen in the South Derry area. Intelligence suggested he was working in Donegal. The PSNI cannot find a record that the priest was ever arrested or interviewed about his alleged involvement in the Claudy bombings, or any other terrorist offence.
Following its review, the PSNI released a statement by then ACC Kincaid which stated:
“It is clear that the relatives of those who died in the bomb attack on Claudy village and those who were injured have not obtained justice. I regret this very much and in particular that opportunities to arrest and interview all of the suspects were not taken in 1972”
In addition, the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Owen Paterson, in 2010 in response to the publication of a PONI Statement in relation to the Claudy Bombings, made a statement including this apology;
“For my part 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”
The PRESENT Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, repeats the views of his predecessor re-iterating, on behalf of the Government that he is profoundly sorry that Father Chesney was not properly investigated for his suspected involvement in the Claudy Bombings.
The Temple, Miller and McClelland families are continuing their action against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Derry and want to place on the public record their anger and disgust at the attitude of the Church to date regarding the legal proceedings. The legal action against the Church will continue and the families look forward to a trial where they will prove their case against the Church. The families cannot further comment on any issues relating to the case against the Church.
The families would like to finally say that 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 the NIO during mediation which assisted their understanding of some serious failings by the state.