Time for IRA to admit to Claudy atrocity: UUP

The devastated main street in Claudy following the 1972 bomb blasts.
The devastated main street in Claudy following the 1972 bomb blasts.

A victim of the Claudy bombings says she has “some hope” that the IRA will come clean about the attack in the months coming up to the 40th anniversary of the atrocity.

Mary Hamilton who was injured in the 1972 triple bomb attack, said an admission by republicans of responsibility for the killing of nine-year-old Gordon Gallagher in 1973 could pave the way for further admissions.

In a statement, republicans said they were “profoundly sorry” and “truly remorseful” for the death of the child, who had been playing in his garden at his Creggan home, when he tripped on the device.

They also acknowleged that the British Army was not to blame for the death.

Mrs Hamilton expressed her surprise at the move but said many more victims were still desperate for answers.

“Maybe now these IRA men are finally starting to be troubled by their consciences, and maybe there is some hope that they will finally admit to Claudy before the 40th anniversary this year [July 31],” she said.

“My first thoughts were when I heard that the IRA has made this admission was, ‘what about Claudy?’

“I fully sympathise with the Gallagher family and what they have gone through over the last 40 years and I am sure that this will help them in some way.

“It doesn’t matter what religion or side of the community you are from, when you lose a loved one in a terrorist attack, it is very difficult to get on with things.”

Mrs Hamilton, a Derry city councillor whose brother-in-law was killed by the IRA, said the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness could still help in their search for truth.

Gordon Gallagher’s father, Billy, said he accepted “the IRA’s responsibility” for the murder of Gordon “even though it came through a third party and they didn’t speak to me directly.”

“This has opened the door for further investigation - I want to know who did it and why,” he said.

“I am glad they take full responsibility and accept that they were to blame and no one else was (the army).

“This will help to make sure that everyone else knows the IRA were to blame for Gordon’s death, even though I always knew that.”

The Claudy bombings took place on July 31, 1972, when three car bombs exploded mid-morning on the town’s Main Street. Nine people died in the attack.

In August 2010, the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland published a report into the bombing which concluded that the British Government and the Catholic Church had conspired to cover-up a priest’s alleged involvement in the bombings.