Joe, of the two atrocities committed in Derry/Londonderry in 1972, only one – Bloody Sunday – has greatly energised the nationalist/republican community, including Sinn Féin and the IRA.
The second atrocity committed in Derry/Londonderry in 1972 was the IRA’s [long denied] Claudy Bombing which, as you know, has not enjoyed anything like the popular support and sympathy, investigations and multimillion pound inquiries rightly granted to Bloody Sunday.
While 13 people were shot by Paras in Derry on Bloody Sunday, 9 people were blown to bits in Claudy by IRA car bombs on Bloody Monday – including children.
Both Sinn Féin and the IRA Army Council would prefer that all of the IRA’s mass-casualty anti-civilian bombings should be entirely erased from memory and from inquiry – not just Claudy, but also the Bloody Friday Bombings in Belfast, the Coleraine Bombings, the Birmingham Bombings, the La Mon bombings, the Enniskillen Bombings, Warrington, Manchester – too many IRA mass-casualty anti-civilian bombings to mention…
Only 10 miles from the Bogside’s “Free Derry” no-go area, Claudy village was attacked by three IRA car bombs on July 31st, 1972 – the morning of the British Army’s Operation Motorman that was aimed to clear the IRA-controlled “no go” areas.
The IRA felt that the overwhelming British Army assault on IRA-controlled areas should be marked by an attack that would also “take the pressure” off the Bogside and other barricaded areas.
The “soft target” Claudy attack was planned by the IRA unit known variously at the time as the IRA’s South Derry Battalion, the South Derry IRA and later as the South Derry Brigade.
Your father, Francie Brolly, was the IRA’s O.C. in the area at the time of the bombings.
Francie was arrested and interned by the authorities in January 1973, six months after the Claudy car bombs.
You have referred to your father’s IRA activities:
The former pundit, who is also a barrister, described the anxious and uncertain nature of growing up during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
He said: “It was exhilerating – scary, I suppose.”
“Very quickly it was clear that my father was a person of interest to the State.”
“We were raided, turfed out of bed. Night time was scary and there were a lot of very serious things going on.”
“My father was interned, one morning they came and took him. He was taken away for three years. We saw him a few times during that period.Virgin Media 1
You have also referred to your parents later operating an IRA ‘safe house’ where the IRA leader who ordered the Claudy Bombings – Martin McGuinness – and other IRA members were welcomed:
Brolly also recalled how his childhood home was often used as a hideout for many escaping the pursuit of armed forces – including former Provisional IRA leader Martin McGuinness.
He continued: “Boys used to hide in our house, they’d come in and stay for a night or two.”
He told a story about McGuinness arriving at the Brolly home when Joe was around six or seven to be “driven across the border.”
“I knew Martin for a long time. Martin used to be a visitor at our house when he was a young man,” Brolly said.
“I remember my mother putting a false beard on him and, as I recall, the story was that he was going to university and he was my older brother.”Dion Fanning/Joe.ie
What all of these IRA gunmen and bombers had in common was that they were prepared to unilaterally suspend the Human Rights and Civil Rights not just of so-called ‘legitimate targets’ but also of any Irish or British citizens who happened to get in the way – entirely innocent men, women and children.
Nine Catholic and Protestant citizens got in the way of the IRA’s three car bombs in Claudy on July 31, 1972.
The youngest was 8 years old Kathryn Eakin who was cleaning the outside window of her mother’s shop when one of the IRA car bombs exploded beside her.
Faced with the murders of 9 Protestants and Catholics in a small village – Patrick Connolly (15), William Temple (16), Arthur Hone (38), Joseph McCluskey (39), Rose McLaughlin (51), Elizabeth McElhinney (59), David Miller (60), James McClelland (65) – the IRA decided to brazenly deny the bombings – as the IRA also did in Birmingham where it blew 21 citizens to bits.
One man you have publicly praised – Martin McGuinness – and another man you looked up to – your father Francie Brolly – agreed to set in train a false IRA denial of responsibility for the three car bombs.
A number of IRA members and supporters from various parts of County Derry/Londonderry immediately fled across the border to sanctuary in the Republic of Ireland where “political” murders were not subject to extradition.
Their names are known.
The IRA financed the flight of others to that vast haven for IRA runners, the United States, including “Witness A” – Raymond McElhennon.
Those IRA members and their relatives and supporters who were participants in the bombings and who decided not to flee but to brazen it out included your father and other IRA members in Dungiven and surrounding areas.
They were intent on hiding behind a wall of lies which continue to this day – lies being the IRA’s best weapon in the long run.
One of the bomb makers, Malachy O’Kane, having been imprisoned for other IRA murders and bombings – still lives in Dungiven since his release.
What has any of this to do with me?
Until April 2016 I thought it had nothing to do with me.
After RTE broadcast a Would You Believe? special about a play I had written about Kevin Barry – in which I admitted having been a teenage IRA bomber in Derry and in London – relatives of Claudy victims immediately challenged me to help them to find out the truth of the Claudy Bombs.
Initially, I pointed them to Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness – surely, I said, he must have made his peace with those of his many many innocent victims who appealed to him?
No – it turned out that my former IRA Chief had been blanking the phone calls, emails and appeals of the Claudy victims while you and others – including churchmen – were praising him – but not just of his Claudy victims.
Martin McGuinness went to his grave hiding from his victims and hiding behind a myriad of lies – a true moral coward on behalf of the IRA.
So I later agreed to try to help relatives of the IRA’s Claudy Bombing victims to find out the truth of the long-denied atrocity.
You may read my investigation of the bombing which includes the name of the leader of the IRA Active Service Unit on the day – Raymond McElhennon – who fled to America but now resides safely in Monaghan:
One of the chief bomb makers was Malachy O’Kane – who is still alive in Dungiven:
Naturally, I opened myself to the risk of IRA Lawfare – that propensity for defamation lawsuits recently popularised by leading IRA members and Sinn Féin front puppets – but nothing happened.
Remarkably, none of the named IRA bombers desired to – or felt able to – pursue recourse to law…
How does this involve you, Joe?
You have publicly praised IRA leaders who represented the Republican Holy Trinity – membership of the IRA, Sinn Féin and the GAA – your praise of Barney McFadden in Derry is on record.
You praised Gerry “Mad Dog” Doherty.
Your father, Francie Brolly, was a Republican Holy Trinitarian also.
The IRA Army Council would already hold you in high regard.
Your background perfectly qualifies you to confront the IRA members still alive in Northern Ireland and elsewhere who participated in the bombing of Claudy village at the behest of both Martin McGuinness and your father, Francie Brolly – and yet who have denied this atrocity for 50 years.
You could possibly bring to a conclusion the Claudy victims’ search for truth as the 50th anniversary approaches, since justice is never going to apply.
If I can be of any assistance to you in this endeavour, Joe, I will help you.
Hoping you can feel able to help bring closure to the IRA’s long denied Claudy Bombings atrocity,
And a movie every Irish person should view: