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Inquiry finds Church covered up IRA bomb priest

Both the Catholic Church and the British Government knew of a priest's role in the murder of nine people by Irish terrorists in 1972, according to a British police inquiry.

It alleges the activities of Fr Jim Chesney were known to the British Government and the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, but he was never arrested, questioned or charged.

The inquiry has found evidence that the priest was an IRA member involved in an attack on the village of Claudy, County Londonderry, in which three car bombs exploded without warnings. Fr Chesney's terrorist activities were discussed at a private meeting between Cardinal William Conway and Northern Ireland secretary William Whitelaw in December, 1972.

A month later Fr Chesney was moved from Northern Ireland across the border to a church in County Donegal, beyond the reach of the province's police and security forces.

David Trimble, the Ulster Unionist leader, has called for a full judicial inquiry.

"Allegations of a cover-up need to be vigorously investigated," he said. "There must be the same very visible searching and public examination as that which went into the Bloody Sunday inquiry. Nothing else will do."

The Age

Irish Priest Implicated in Terror Bombing; Cover-Up Charged (Catholic World News)
'It became obvious Father Chesney was south Derry's answer to Bonnie and Clyde' (The Guardian)

23 Dec 2002