Forty years too late for an event that should never have happened in the first place. Whatever the excuses (and there were – and are – plenty) the attack in the small Derry village of Clóidigh (Claudy) in late July of 1972 was reckless in the extreme. Though designed to draw pressure off the Irish Republican Army forces in Derry City in the aftermath of Operation Motorman by the British Occupation Forces (or so it is presumed) a series of misfortunes led to three vehicle bombs detonating without adequate warnings in the town killing nine civilians. Now Martin McGuiness, deputy First Minister of the North of Ireland, has made his first substantive statement on the incident. From the Guardian newspaper:
“The Claudy attack was one of the worst atrocities of the Troubles and, while no group accepted responsibility for the attack, it was widely believed to be the work of the IRA.
McGuinness, a former IRA leader, said on Tuesday: “The deaths and injuries caused in Claudy on 31 July 1972 were wrong. The events of that day were appalling and indefensible and they should not have happened. All of the deaths and injuries inflicted on totally innocent people in this quiet village 40 years ago should motivate everyone in our society to ensure such terrible tragedies never happen again.
“Today marks the anniversary of Claudy. It is also the 40th anniversary of two unarmed young men from Creggan in Derry who were shot by the British army. Last week it was Bloody Friday. Next week is the anniversary of the killing of 19 people in Ballymurphy during internment week. It is my firm view that we need to find a better way of dealing with the legacy of the conflict which goes beyond individual acts of commemoration or remembrance and begins to deal with the very real hurt that exists throughout our society.
“All of the families of those who died or were injured deserve and are entitled to the truth about the deaths of their loved ones. We must collectively increase our efforts to heal the deep hurt caused by the Claudy bombings and all of the suffering in 1972, and continue to build on the progress of our peace process.”
In 2010 the Northern Ireland police ombudsman released a report that said the police, the state and the Catholic church covered up Chesney’s suspected role in the bombing. It said officers believed the priest, who was later moved to the Irish Republic, was a suspect.”
Though welcome Martin McGuinness’ words highlight yet again the need for a fully independent and open Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate all the events of the Northern War.