Historical Enquiries Team call over priest's activities
MAGHERAFELT Ulster Unionist councillor George Shiels has called for the Historical Enquiries Team to investigate Father James Chesney's activities with the IRA whilst he was a parish priest in Desertmartin.
Councillor Shiels said: “The present revelations regarding Chesney’s alleged involvement in the Claudy Bombing must be investigated meticulously, however there are also questions which need answers concerning IRA activity in South Londonderry, activity which predates the Claudy bombing when the priest was in Desertmartin.
“It is Chesney’s alleged leadership of the terrorist organisation in the Magherafelt district during the early years of the troubles which preoccupies my thoughts presently.”
The councillor claims that the Historical Enquiries Team should centre on the priest’s alleged involvement in weapons distribution, robberies and planning and execution of IRA activities locally.
The Enquiries Team should, he said, look at the failure of the security forces to act on information which might have saved lives if searches had been carried out and Father Chesney had been arrested for questioning.
“I call on the Historical Enquiries Team to take the lead in a full investigation into the activities of this ‘troublesome priest’, specifically on the effects on the health and wellbeing of the population of the Magherafelt district<” he continued.
“The HET must have access to an enormous amount of intelligence on Chesney’s activities - If not, why not?
“Crucially, the team must get to the bottom of the failure of the security forces to act on information supplied that stated Chesney was storing weapons in the Parochial House in Desertmartin.
“If a search had been mounted and the priest arrested, then surely many lives could have been saved, including those lost in Claudy.
“If the team have not yet reached the letter C alphabetically, then they should prioritise and investigate forthwith the priest’s activities while he was Desertmartin parish priest. Such an investigation would probably throw light on several cold cases.”
Councillor Shiels added, “The questions which need immediate answers are: was Chesney involved in weaponry distribution and robberies, was he implicated in the planning and execution of IRA activities including murder and did he store guns in the parochial house as alleged by a Special Branch officer last week?
“The HET are in the business of investigating the murders of the past.
“They undoubtedly have a big job of work to get their teeth into in the Magherafelt district, investigating unsolved murders within the period when Chesney was domiciled in Desertmartin.
“If they need more resources to carry out that work then those resources should be made available to them.
“The big question is, will the HET be afforded full co-operation by all sections of the security forces?”
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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