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 Tuesday, 1 October, 2002, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK
Claudy: Parents' anguish
Scene after 1972 Claudy bombing
Nine people were killed in the no-warning bomb
The parents of the youngest victim of the IRA's 1972 bombing of Claudy have welcomed plans for a new inquiry into the atrocity.

Katherine Eakin, eight, was cleaning windows at the family grocery store when three bombs exploded in the County Londonderry village, killing her and eight others.

Her parents, Billy and Merle, have said they are encouraged by the latest development, 30 years after losing their daughter.

Merle said the family just wanted to achieve "peace of mind" through the new inquiry.

Billy Eakin, victim's father
Billy Eakin: Family have endured 30 years of "torture"

"I just hope that they do find the person or persons who did this because they're still out there and it's torture all the time wondering why they did it," she said.

"Especially the man who left the car, and saw wee Katherine standing cleaning a window. He knew that he was going to do something. Why didn't he shout?"

She spoke of the family's continuing heartache, but hopes the fresh investigation, which is being led by a senior detective, will bring the bombers to justice.

"It's very hard," she said.

"Our son Mark was left without his sister, without his business or home or anything. I do feel it's time somebody was brought to justice for the terrible deeds they did in Claudy."

It has been claimed that a Catholic priest, the late Father Jim Chesney, was in charge of the IRA unit which carried out bombing.

It was said he later broke down and confessed his part in the bombing to another priest and the allegations were contained in a letter.

But Billy said he had his own thoughts about who was behind the atrocity.

"Until something that can be clarified - that letter that was sent from the priest in England - until that's authenticated I would not want to make any further comment on it because we don't have any evidence."

The passage of time has failed to dull the pain for the family.

"Every time there's an anniversary or birthday or something like that it brings it all back again," Billy said.

"We got a cheque for 58 for the death of Katherine. When I inquired from a legal person, he said that was to pay for the coffin and the hearse and Katherine "won't cost you any more money".

Memorial to victims of Claudy bombing
A memorial has been erected in memory of the victims

"So (we got) no compensation which I think was ludicrous. It was an insult. I shouldn't have cashed the cheque. I should have framed it and hung it up on a wall."

Billy remains optimistic that the fresh inquiry will uncover new evidence about the bombings.

"I would like to see one or two or three people brought to justice for what they did. After all we have been tortured for 30 years for no reason.

"I would like to see some of them doing 30 years in the slammer.

"If I knocked down someone's child and killed it, I would have to do time for it and rightly so."

  Billy and Merle Eakin talk to BBC Radio Ulster
about their hopes that the bombers will be brought to justice
The reinvestigation of an atrocity

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See also:

30 Sep 02 | N Ireland
31 Jul 02 | N Ireland
20 Aug 00 | N Ireland
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