Belfast Telegraph

McGuinness challenged over Claudy

Northern Ireland deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has been challenged to meet the victims of the Claudy bombing after revealing he met the chief suspect in the attack.

Mr McGuinness confirmed he spoke with Father James Chesney before the priest's death in 1980, but claimed the no-warning car bomb attack which killed nine people in 1972 was never mentioned.

The senior Sinn Fein representative had previously denied ever knowing the priest, but now says he had been mistaken and confirmed he met the clergyman, describing him as a "republican sympathiser".

Mr McGuinness denied IRA involvement in the infamous bombing, claiming he had questioned leadership figures in Dublin after the attack.

But victims and campaigners said he should now go to Claudy to answer their questions.

Mr McGuinness said: "I never knew Fr Chesney before Claudy. I never knew Father Chesney for many years after the Claudy bomb.

"I was asked, whenever I was told that Fr Chesney was dying, I was told he was a republican sympathiser, would I go to see him and meet with him in Co Donegal.

"I did that. There was no mention whatsoever of the Claudy bomb. During the course of that, he just talked about his support for a united Ireland and for Irish freedom."

He denied the priest said anything to indicate he had been directly involved with the IRA, despite allegations the clergyman was a member of the paramilitary group.

Claudy happened six months after Bloody Sunday in Londonderry, 10 miles away, when Mr McGuinness was an IRA leader. But the Sinn Fein representative also denied the IRA in Derry was involved in the Claudy outrage.


From Belfast Telegraph