Belfast Telegraph

Bradley met Claudy bombing suspect

A priest suspected of involvement in the Claudy bombing met a former deputy chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, it has been revealed.

Denis Bradley said he was not aware of Fr James Chesney's link to the 1972 IRA atrocity at the time.

Nine people died in the attack on the Co Londonderry village.

Mr Bradley said he found Fr Chesney flamboyant and a little immature, but added he was not surprised Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness forgot meeting the priest on his death bed in Co Donegal.

"Outside of that I don't really have any memory, apart from I liked him, but then I like the flamboyant people," he said.

"I certainly had no knowledge of the fact that there were any accusations or insinuations that he was involved in the IRA or in the Claudy bombings, so it wasn't common knowledge at that particular time."

Mr McGuinness said in 2002 he had never met Fr Chesney, but on Wednesday he revealed they had met.

Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson's probe found high-level talks led to Fr James Chesney, a suspect in the attack, being moved to the Irish Republic. No action was taken against Fr Chesney, who died in 1980.

Mr Bradley, himself a former priest, chaired the Consultative Group on the Past which dealt with the legacy of the conflict.

He told the BBC the Church was as confused as everybody else about how to deal with the surge in violence and said he was not surprised Mr McGuinness forgot meeting Fr Chesney.

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