Claudy bomb: conspiracy allowed IRA priest to go free

The police, the Catholic Church and the state conspired to cover up a priest’s suspected role in one of the worst atrocities of the Northern Ireland Troubles, an investigation has found.  Nine people died in bombings in Claudy, County Londonderry on 31 July 1972.  The NI Police Ombudsman’s probe found that high-level talks led to Fr James Chesney, a suspect in the attack, being moved to the Irish Republic. BBC NEWS

On 30 November 1972 Police Officer 3 wrote to the NIO stating;

‘For some time I have been considering what action, if any, could be taken to render harmless a dangerous priest, Father Chesney, who is leading an I.R.A. Unit in South Derry………I attach a précis of the intelligence on Father Chesney and suggest that our masters may find it possible to bring the subject into any conversations they may be having with the Cardinal or Bishops at some future date..…..’ – 4.22 Claudy Report

In response to this correspondence the NIO wrote to Police Officer 3 on 6 December 1972;

‘Many thanks for your note on Father Chesney. You will be relieved to hear that Secretary of State saw the Cardinal privately on 5 December and gave him a full account of his disgust at Chesney’s behaviour. The Cardinal said that he knew that the priest was a very bad man and would see what could be done. The Cardinal mentioned the possibility of transferring him to Donegal.’ – 4.24 Claudy Report

AL HUTCHINSON

POLICE OMBUDSMAN FOR NORTHERN IRELAND

24 AUGUST 2010

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