The priest suspected of the Claudy bombing in 1972 met Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness shortly before he died, it has been revealed.
Police believed Fr James Chesney was the IRA’s director of operations in south Derry and was a prime suspect in the Claudy attack and other terrorist incidents.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness confirmed today that he spoke with Fr Chesney about the priest’s support for a united Ireland.
However, he insisted the no-warning car bomb attack which killed nine people was never mentioned.
He also said he never knew Fr Chesney for many years after the bombing.
Claudy happened six months after Bloody Sunday in Derry when Mr McGuinness was an IRA leader.
He has denied the IRA in Derry was involved in the Claudy attacks.
Fr Chesney died in 1982. He had denied to church colleagues that he was involved in the bombings.
A report by the Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson last month claimed that senior RUC officers, the Catholic Church and the British government were involved in a cover-up at the time when Fr Chesney, a priest in south Derry, was transferred to another parish across the Border in Co Donegal