‘I don’t hate anyone, but we need to acknowledge the hurt and anger’

Marjorie Leslie.
Marjorie Leslie.

A survivor of the 1972 Claudy bombings has said she has lost all hope of justice ever being done for the victims of the atrocity.

Yesterday marked the 45th anniversary of the attack, when three no-warning car bombs tore through the small Co. Derry village, murdering nine people and injuring many others.

Marjorie Leslie was one of those caught up in the carnage and was badly injured, losing the Achilles Tendon in the heel of one of her feet.

She recalled the awful moment she learned that eight-year-old Kathryn Eakin, who she used to babysit, had been killed by the first bomb.

Kathryn was cleaning the windows of her family’s shop when the bomb went off. She died instantly and was the youngest victim of the bombings.

“It is so vivid in my mind,” said Ms. Leslie.

“I have suppressed those memories for so long and they have all started coming back to me over these last few weeks in the run up to the anniversary.

“I was traumatised for a long time after the bombing. When I got out of hospital I was afraid to go back to the village. For many years I had a deep fear of enclosed spaces, even getting into a lift.”

But Ms. Leslie said she does not indulge in “self-pity,” adding: “There are many victims who are much worse off than me. “

More than four decades on, there is frustration that no one has ever been brought to justice over Claudy. No paramilitary group has ever claimed responsibility for the bombings, but a report by the Police Ombudsman in 2010 found that Catholic Priest, Fr. James Chesney and the IRA brigade he was allegedly part of, were suspected of being behind the attack. It also said the police, the State and the Catholic Church had covered up Fr Chesney’s suspected role.

While she said she does not harbour any hate for those who carried out the massacre, Marjorie is still angry over the alleged cover-up.

“I don’t hate anyone, even those responsible for this horrific attack. The past is the past. We need to acknowledge the hurt and the anger, but we also need to move on and make Northern Ireland a better place for our children and grandchildren.

“No one has ever been brought to justice over Claudy and, realistically, I don’t believe anyone ever will.”

“Some people want a full inquiry to be held into Claudy, but where would that lead us?” Ms Leslie asked. “Too much time has passed, we are not going to get the truth. So we need to focus on moving forward and building a better future.”

Ms. Leslie said one person who may have had answers to the questions long-held by victims was the late deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness.

In 2012, at the time of the 40th anniversary of the bombings, Ms Leslie called for a meeting with the former IRA leader to ask him what he knew regarding the atrocity.

“Obviously that meeting never happened and he has now taken what he knew to his grave. There are others out there who know what happened that day, but I don’t think the families will ever get the answers they seek.

“As a victim you never forget what has happened. But there comes a time when we must move on as a society.”