Belfast Telegraph

McGuinness 'would meet over Claudy'

Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has confirmed that he is prepared to meet the victims of the Claudy bombing.

The move follows the revelation that the senior republican met the chief suspect in the attack.

Mr McGuinness said on Wednesday that he had spoken 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 Sinn Fein representative had previously denied ever knowing the priest, but has now claimed he forgot their meeting.

After bereaved relatives and campaigners said Mr McGuinness had questions to answer, he was challenged to meet with them.

A Sinn Fein spokesman said: "Martin McGuinness has no issue in meeting with the families."

But there was growing political criticism from unionist and nationalist parties over Mr McGuinness's handling of the affair.

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. Three devices exploded in the peaceful village, and while no group claimed responsibility, the IRA has always been blamed.

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said Mr McGuinness should provide more information on the events surrounding Claudy.

"Martin McGuinness needs to answer questions," he said. "He needs to answer questions, and the questions he needs to answer now are what was he doing and who was he with on the days immediately leading up to the Claudy bomb and the days immediately afterwards."

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