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Grim facts of Claudy bombing revealed

New details about the 1972 bombing of Claudy village were being revealed today.

The North's Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson's report into the IRA bombing, which left nine people dead and 30 injured, followed claims the British government and the Catholic Church protected the main suspect.

Priest Father James Chesney, was moved to Donegal and died of cancer in 1980, aged 46. Nobody was ever convicted.

Three car bombs went off in the village, 11 miles from Derry and six months after Bloody Sunday on the same day 12,000 British troops entered republican no-go areas in Belfast and Derry. In Bogside, the first device exploded by McElhinney's shop and bar on Main Street.

Police believe the bombers tried to phone a warning but the lines were down after past bomb damage to the phone exchange.

They then told Dungiven shop owners three bombs were planted in the village. One shop owner rushed to Dungiven police station with the warning but it was too late.

Minutes after the first bomb went off, killing three and fatally wounding three others, police officers found a second device.

They evacuated people towards the Beaufort Hotel, not knowing a third bomb was in another van outside the hotel.

Soon after the second bomb detonated, the third exploded, killing three more.

The IRA denied responsibility, with the leadership claiming an internal "court of inquiry" indicated that its local unit did not carry it out.

But this account was long doubted, with many believing the republicans were unwilling to own up to it.

Rumours soon circulated that young curate Father Jim Chesney was involved.

hnews@herald.ie