DEPUTY First Minister and Mid-Ulster MP, Martin McGuinness, has said the Claudy bombings of 1972 were “indefensible and appalling”.
Tuesday m Derry Brigade of the Provisional IRA were blamed for the attack and the Police Ombudsman’s report in 2010 believed that Desertmartin-based priest Fr James Chesney was the IRA’s director of operations in the bombings and other terrorists incidents.
The Sinn Fein minister said the deaths and injuries were wrong and should not have happened.
He said they should motivate “everyone in our society to ensure such terrible tragedies never happen again”.
“Today marks the anniversary of Claudy,” Mr McGuinness said. “It is also the 40th anniversary of two unarmed young men from Creggan in Derry who were shot by the British Army.
“Last week it was Bloody Friday. Next week is the anniversary of the killing of 19 people in Ballymurphy during internment week.
“It is my firm view that we need to find a better way of dealing with the legacy of the conflict which goes beyond individual acts of commemoration or remembrance and begins to deal with the very real hurt that exists throughout our society.”
Mr McGuinness, a former IRA leader, said “all of the families of those who died or were injured deserve and are entitled to the truth about the deaths of their loved ones”.
“We must collectively increase our efforts to heal the deep hurt caused by the Claudy bombings and all of the suffering in 1972, and continue to build on the progress of our peace process,” he added.
Responding to Martin McGuinness’s remarks on the 40th anniversary of the Claudy bombing TUV leader Jim Allister said:
“McGuinness’s comments about Claudy will cut no ice with those who will remember that the co-First Minister lied about never having met Roman Catholic priest, James Chesney.
“In 2002 McGuinness issued a statement to the BBC’s Spotlight programme saying: ‘I have never met Father Chesney, nor do I have any knowledge of him other than from media reports’.
“However, eight years later McGuinness admitted that he had met the Provo priest who is widely suspected as being behind the bombings on his death bed.
“Having admitted he lied over knowing Chesney, let McGuinness now tell all he knows about Claudy, his procession of a machine gun on Bloody Sunday and his involvement in multiple IRA murders. Until that happens the victims of IRA violence will threat his comments about Claudy being “indefensible and appalling” with the utter contempt they deserve.”