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Monday, 23 December, 2002, 11:50 GMT
Claudy bombing: Should there be an inquiry?
The government and the Catholic Church shielded a priest involved in the 1972 Claudy bombing which killed nine people, say Northern Ireland police.
Six adults and three children were killed when three IRA car bombs exploded in the village of Claudy with no warning.
Assistant Chief Constable Sam Kincaid said a search of 1972 papers clearly showed that a Catholic priest in south Derry was a Provisional IRA member actively involved in terrorism.
He said the search also showed the priest provided an alibi for a person suspected of playing a prominent role in the atrocity.
It has been alleged that the then Northern Ireland Secretary William Whitelaw and Cardinal William Conway, the Catholic Primate of all-Ireland, discussed the outrage and the activities of the priest.
Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble has called for a full judicial inquiry, similar to the Bloody Sunday tribunal.
Will the full truth ever emerge? Should there be a judicial inquiry?
This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Such an inquiry may help heal some wounds, but is just as likely to stir up old grievances and awaken yet more doubt and suspicion. These inquiries rarely bring closure, they simply spark further investigations and accusations. Would that there was as much will to look forward and find peace as there seems to be to look back and rekindle anger.
Iain, England (ex-NI)
It is inconceivable that there should not be a full inquiry. The Church should not be above the law. The families of the victims have a right to know all the facts.
I was always taught "the truth will always out". This has proved true time after time, cover ups never work in the long run.
For too long such stories about priests' involvement with terrorism either participating with them or hiding them from the police has been dismissed as Protestant black propaganda. It now seems that there has been a strong essence of truth with this latest revelation. For the Roman Catholic Church's own sake they should cooperate fully in any investigation that may take place. However, I would have little confidence in Whitehall having the necessary courage to carry it out. They are scared stiff of the IRA but not those who abide by the law i.e. the decent people of Northern Ireland (both Protestant and R.C. )
Lan-Chi Huang, Taiwan
Nothing short of a full and open public inquiry will do.
The RUC, British government and the Roman Catholic church must answer to the victims of this most evil act. We must have the truth to all of this and nothing else will be accepted.
There should be an inquiry, and the church and government should cooperate fully. Transparency and honestly (even brutal honesty) is needed more than ever before in both the Northern Ireland crisis and the Catholic Church's crisis.
Yes, of course there should be an enquiry though it is very doubtful that the truth will come out.
Doreen Thompson, NI
Persistent allegations about this have been circulating ever since the outrage occurred. A local historian says the British security services are said to have had suspicions that other priests were also closely involved with the IRA. The Catholic church is already reeling from child abuse allegations in several countries - the last thing it needs is rumours about terrorist activities by its priests.
Of course there should be an inquiry. Not knowing the truth shall haunt the families of those hurt or killed for the rest of their lives, it's the very least the government can do.
These things should be brought out into the open, people have a right to know who they are or were involved with. This priest had no right to be involved with the IRA or any other group. What ever happened to the 'impartiality' of the church?
I have the greatest sympathy for all those injured or killed and their friends and relatives. However, this does not prevent me from wanting to question the legitimacy of an organisation that protects people involved in the atrocity. It also brings into question what a 'loving' God was doing while one of his agents on earth was apparently providing help to murderers.
We need a judicial inquiry. Too many murderers have escaped prosecution in NI in the name of the Good Friday Agreement. Without justice, this agreement is built on sand and cannot survive.
The Catholic Church covered up their sexually deviant priests for generations - pray tell why should we be surprised that they covered up a terrorist priest?
Yes - there should certainly be an inquiry. Attitudes have moved on since 1972: the Church no longer commands a position of awe and respect, and criminals are less able to hide behind the cynical cloak of protection which the Church once offered. The guilty parties deserve to be publicly exposed and pilloried.
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