By Peter Wozniak
A damning report has implicated the UK government and the Catholic Church in colluding to allow a suspected perpetrator of the Claudy bombings in Northern Ireland to escape justice.
The probe, begun in 2002 by Al Hutchinson, the Northern Irish Police Ombudsman, into the 1972 atrocity indicated that as a result of high-level discussions between the Catholic Church and the government, the priest and suspected IRA bomber involved, Father James Cheney, was transported across the border to the Irish Republic, where he remained, unprosecuted, until his death in 1980.
Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) detectives were said to suspect Fr Cheney or IRA involvement, but were over-ruled by the chief constable, Sir Graham Shillingham, following the high-level discussions.
Mr Hutchinson stated that the RUC leadership, by their complicity in his transfer, were guilty, according to the Ombudsman's conclusion, of a "collusive act".
The bombings, in which nine people were killed in three explosions on 31st of July 1972, were never claimed by the IRA, though their involvement was widely suspected.
The current Northern Ireland secretary, Owen Paterson, expressed regret at the failure to properly investigate Fr Cheney, saying the government was "profoundly sorry."