Senior officers decided not to pursue Martin McGuinness over his alleged role in a terrorist attack that killed nine people because it would be too “politically sensitive”, it has been claimed.
Mr. McGuinness, a former commander of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) terror group, died on Monday aged 66, just weeks after stepping down as Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.
Now, the Daily Telegraph claims sources have told them police officers were told to drop an investigation into his role in the 1972 Claudy bombing – nicknamed ‘Bloody Monday’.
Three car bombs exploded in the town on 31 July 1972, killing nine people including an eight-year-old girl.
The IRA denied involvement, but by around 2007 the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) had accumulated enough evidence against Mr. McGuinness to look into his involvement. However, senior officers prevented the investigation going any further.
The source told the paper: “There was an appetite among a number of PSNI detectives to pursue the case against McGuinness over his role in the Claudy bombings.
“But when they approached senior officers they were told point blank: ‘We are not prosecuting Martin McGuinness.’ It was felt by the top brass of the PSNI that it would have been simply too damaging to the peace process.”
Despite his violent terrorist past, Mr. McGuinness became a leading figure in the Northern Ireland peace process, entering politics and rising to the level of Deputy First Minister of the Province.
His legacy never left him, however, and he never fully publicly repented of his previous actions.
Austin Stack, whose father was murdered by the IRA, said Mr. McGuinness should have faced serious questions over his role in the bombings.
“I’m very aware of the fact that Martin McGuinness had questions to answer in relation to the Claudy bomb, there were questions over the Enniskillen bomb and he also had questions to answer in relation to the death of Frank Hegarty. There are people who never got their answers,” he said.
Mr. McGuinness was also accused of having prior knowledge of another terror attack, the Enniskillen ‘Poppy Day’ massacre in 1987, in which 12 people died. No one has ever been convicted for the attack.
Stephen Gault, whose father was killed in the attack, said: “Martin McGuinness has taken to the grave the truth and the answers that we need to be able to move forward. He knows who bombed Enniskillen. Initially my thoughts and prayers go out to the Enniskillen victims.
“I will always remember Martin McGuinness as the terrorist he was. If he had been repentant my thoughts might have been slightly different. There was no remorse or repentance from him even up to his death.”
The PSNI said it was not in a position to comment on the Claudy investigation.