After the north of Ireland Police Ombudsman’s report into how the British state dealt with the Claudy bombings, the susequent furore/media focus has been on Father James Chesney and his later move to a parish in Donegal.
This has been treated as acceptance, admission or proof of his involvement in events of that day. Nothing of the sort was shown in the report.
This small truth, his moving parishes, has become an absolute demonstration for many of his involvement in the bombings – no proof or evidence has been offered and the Ombudsman investigation was solely focused on RUC/British state failings, not an evidential assessment.
An article from Suzanne Breen in today’s Tribune noted this allegation now masquerading as fact.
Clearly Chesney had Republican sympathies, clearly he was a catholic, clearly gossip and allegation is being used to label him an active member of the IRA and central to the Claudy massacre.
As Padraigín Drinan said:
The explanation circulating has been that arresting a Catholic priest would have worsened the security situation by inflaming nationalists. “That doesn’t ring true,” says Drinan. “During the 1971 Ballymurphy massacre, British soldiers shot dead Fr Hugh Mullan who had gone to help an injured man.
“Another priest was also shot in east Belfast but survived. And two Belfast priests, Fr Peter McCann and Fr Malachy Murphy, were arrested for not completing the 1971 census forms in protest against interment.
“The state had shown it was prepared not just to arrest priests but to shoot them, so why not question Fr Chesney if there was evidence against him? I don’t know if he was or wasn’t involved in Claudy, and I’m no fan of the Catholic church, but something stinks. It’s easy to scapegoat Fr Chesney because dead men don’t talk back.”
The only thing clear is the Claudy families/victims still don’t have truth or justice and while it may suit many to pretend these claims against a priest amount to truth – they don’t.