1972 Claudy bombings remembered 40 years on

Family members of those who lost loved ones in the bombing stand for a moment's silence with local politicians at Claudy on Tuesday morning. 0308JM04

Family members of those who lost loved ones in the bombing stand for a moment's silence with local politicians at Claudy on Tuesday morning. 0308JM04

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Victims and survivors of the 1972 Claudy bombings gathered in the county Derry village on Tuesday to remember the 40th anniversary of the atrocity.

Nine people were killed and many more injured in the no-warning car bomb attacks in the village on July 31st, 1972.

David Temple and Councillor Mary Hamilton, reflect for a moment, after laying flowers at the Claudy bombing memorial on Tuesday morning. 0308JM03

David Temple and Councillor Mary Hamilton, reflect for a moment, after laying flowers at the Claudy bombing memorial on Tuesday morning. 0308JM03

A number of relatives of those who were killed, as well as others who were wounded in the bombings gathered to lay flowers at the memorial to mark the anniversary.

No group has ever claimed responsibility for the bomb attacks but many have blamed the IRA, a claim denied by the organisation.

One of the vicitms, Marjorie Leslie, used the anniversary to call for a meeting with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. She said she wanted to ask Mr McGuinness for any information he may have on the attack.

Mr McGuinness released a statement on the anniversary describing the bombings as “appalling and indefensible.”

Marjorie Leslie (right), who lost a relative in the Claudy bombing, gets a hug from a bystander during Tuesday's memorial service. On right is Mark Eakin, who lost his sister Kathryn in the bombing. 0308JM05

Marjorie Leslie (right), who lost a relative in the Claudy bombing, gets a hug from a bystander during Tuesday's memorial service. On right is Mark Eakin, who lost his sister Kathryn in the bombing. 0308JM05

Ms Leslie, who was caught up in the blasts, said a meeting with the Deputy First Minister could help victims.

“Just because Martin McGuinness is up and sitting in Stormont doesn’t mean he is untouchable; because he’s not. I think he has to meet me, and the likes of me, to answer our questions,” she said.

Another survivor of the bombings, Mark Eakin, whose eight year-old sister, Kathryn, was killed, said he plans contacting Mr McGuinness to “see what he can do.”

He also said he would like Mr McGuinness to put pressure on the PSNI investigation. “I would like for him to press for more police to investigate Claudy and the other atrocities to a proper level where victims feel they are actually getting an investigation and something not sitting for forty years. It’s a long haul,” he said.

East Derry MP Gregory Campbell backed the calls for a meeting with Mr McGuinness. The DUP politician claimed that Mr McGuinness was “bound to know the IRA activists who were involved in this atrocity.”

“He should name them. Let’s hear who they are. Who are the people who carried out this atrocity?” he asked.

In his statement, Mr McGuinness said the Claudy bombing should not have happened.

“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.”

The Deputy First Minister also said the Claudy families were entitled to the truth.

“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,” he said.

Mr McGuinness added that a new way of dealing with the past is needed. “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 nineteen 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,” he added.

Ulster Unionist Alderman Mary Hamilton, who was among the injured in Claudy, said Mr McGuinness needs to build on his statement.

“Words are ok, but it is action we need,” she said.

“He owes it to the families to talk to them and to answer the questions that they want answered. He also needs to contact the PSNI and tell them everything he knows about what led to the bombing. We need actions now not words,” she said.

“I would like to think that is the start of something and take things forward and get some closure for the families. The families are just sitting in limbo at the moment and there is nothing being done,” she added.

David Temple, whose 16 year-old brother, William, was killed in the bombings, called on authorities in London and Dublin to “come clean” on the 1972 attack.

“The Irish Government, the British Government, the Roman Catholic Church, everyone has to come clean on Claudy. There is a lot of information out there in London and they should all come clean and let the victims know what happened and why are they trying to cover up everything,” he said.

“My appeal to the police is get your finger out and get things sorted out and let the victims know. In my books they have a lot to do, they knew a lot and they don’t want to say anything because, I think, they are protecting people. Everybody should come clean on this,” he said.

Victims of the Claudy bombings

Kathryn Eakin, 8

Patrick Connolly, 15

William Temple, 16

Arthur Hone, 38

Joseph McCloskey, 39

Rose McLaughlin, 51

Elizabeth McElhinney 59

David Miller, 60

James McClelland, 65