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Page last updated at 07:49 GMT, Tuesday, 24 August 2010 08:49 UK

Priests 'caught in the middle' of NI Troubles

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An inquiry will report today on allegations that a priest, Father James Chesney, was involved in the Claudy village bombing, an IRA bomb attack in the 1970s and that a secret deal protected him from arrest.

On the programme, correspondent Andy Martin talked to the families of the victims.

Former Northern Ireland editor for The Sunday Times Liam Clarke looks back at the history of the alleged involvement of the clergy in assisting terrorists in Northern Ireland.

"Priests were caught in the middle," he said, as they had to "keep the confidence of their own community".

He described that "priests would have been subject to the same pressure as anyone else".

But "it would be wrong to think that every Catholic priest, every parochial house was a safe house for the IRA," he told James Naughtie, "Many of them assisted the authorities."

He thought that the report would be quite important and that "the Unionist community will be measuring it against the thoroughness of the the Saville report into Bloody Sunday."


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