Belfast Telegraph

Denis Bradley defends Martin McGuinness line on Claudy priest

Former Policing Board deputy chairman Denis Bradley has said he is not surprised Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness forgot about his deathbed meeting with the priest suspected of a role in the Claudy bombing.

Denis Bradley, co-author of the controversial report on the legacy of the Troubles, also revealed he met Fr James Chesney on a number of occasions.

Mr Bradley, himself a former priest, said while he did not know Fr Chesney very well, he found him to be “flamboyant, interesting and a little bit immature”.

Mr Bradley claimed to have met Fr Chesney on three or four occasions.

He said: “People are now saying if Martin McGuinness was a leader in Derry he must have known. My memory is, even if he was a leader in Dublin he didn't know what was going on, because it was all ad hoc, it was all happening from day to day, it was chaotic.”

Speaking on BBC Northern Ireland’s Talkback programme, Mr Bradley, who is from Londonderry, 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.”

The co-author of the Eames-Bradley report said he met Fr Chesney after the Catholic Church had moved him to Co Donegal.

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

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams also defended Mr McGuinness, who has been criticised by unionists and the SDLP after denying meeting Fr Chesney

“It is not a sin or a crime or offence to forget a meeting. The statement Martin issued at some point in the past saying he had never met Father Chesney in my opinion was released in good faith — why otherwise would he deny it?,” the West Belfast MP said.

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