By Rebecca Black, PA
The family of a mother-of-eight killed in the bombing of Claudy said she and the other victims have been “continually failed” by the justice system over 50 years.
No-one has ever been brought to justice for the attack which claimed the lives of nine men, women and children in the Co Derry village on July 31st, 1972.
The attack was blamed on the Provisional IRA, although the group has never formally admitted responsibility.
In 2010, a report by the Police Ombudsman found that a Catholic priest, the late Father James Chesney, had been a suspect.
The report said police, the British state and the Catholic Church covered up his suspected role in the bombing.
This prompted legal action by a number of the families of the bereaved against the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and Northern Ireland Office (NIO), which last year saw confidential settlements agreed “without an admission of liability”.
The victims included nine-year-old Kathryn Eakin who had been cleaning the windows of her family’s grocery business, Patrick Connolly, 15, and 16-year-old William Temple.
The adults killed were Artie Hone (38), Joseph McCluskey (39), Elizabeth McElhinney (59), James McClelland (65), Rose McLaughlin (52) and David Miller (60).
Mrs McLaughlin’s family said to this day the victims “have not received the justice they so rightly deserve nor has the truth been told of the events of that day”.
“It seems that in the 50 years since their murders they have been continually failed by those who we had placed our trust in to serve this justice,” they said.
The family described a “wonderful wife and mother” who realised her dream in 1962 of running her own business when she opened a cafe in Claudy.
The bomb attack not only claimed her life but also destroyed her business.
They said a car bomb had been placed outside the cafe, and their mother had been standing by the window speaking to a customer when it exploded.
She died from her injuries in Altnagevlin hospital on August 3rd.
“Words will never do justice to the devastation this brought upon our family as we dealt with the grief of our loss and the manner of our mum’s passing,” her family said in a statement.
“Eight young children had lost their mum and a husband had lost his wife.
“Our mum was our rock and the very foundation of our family and her murder robbed us of the love, kindness and guidance that had previously blessed our lives.
“Our dad never got over that day and the pain of his loss was hard to process.
“Our ability to rebuild our lives was also hampered by the fact the family business and main source of family income was also destroyed in the events of that day and there was no financial help to rebuild. Not only had they taken our mum they had also taken her dreams of building a better life for her family.
“In the years that have passed since our mum’s death we, her children, have built our own families upon the foundation stones our mother laid down for us and although our mum may not have been with us to share in many happy moments, our memories of her and her presence has always been felt, we miss her everyday.”
The 50th anniversary of the atrocity is set to be marked with a community service with involvement across the churches next Sunday.