Convicted IRA bombmaker Shane Paul O'Doherty began his formation for the Catholic priesthood at a Dublin seminary two weeks ago, reported the Belfast Telegraph.
O'Doherty had received 30 life sentences in the 1970s for his part as the chief bombmaker in Derry for an IRA letter-bombing campaign in Northern Ireland and Great Britain. He had once targeted Bishop Gerard Tickle with a letter-bomb hidden inside a Bible. However, that bomb failed to explode.
He turned his back on terrorism after being released in 1989, and he is now studying theology at St Patrick's College in Maynooth. If all goes well, he could be ordained within six years.
Fr. Enda Cunningham, a spokesman for St Patrick's, said they were aware of O'Doherty's terrorist background, but all of the proper procedures had been followed. According to Canon Law, murderers and those who attempt murder against the life of a priest or a bishop are not eligible candidates for the priesthood, unless proper dispensations are issued.
"The college's policy is to receive any student who has been recommended by his bishop," he told the Belfast Telegraph. "This has taken place in Shane's case and he arrived here two weeks ago with 20 other students to begin their training."