Our daddy, Sean Dalton, died when an IRA booby trapped bomb exploded on 31st August 1988 in Kildrum Gardens in Creggan. Sheila Lewis was also killed instantly, and Gerard Curran died of his injuries 7 months later. Sheila and Gerard were my father’s friends and neighbours.
In 2005 we approached the Pat Finucane Centre and agreed to file a complaint with the Police Ombudsman. We were convinced that the RUC knew about the bomb in advance and had allowed our daddy and his friends to die.
There have been many false dawns since then.
We are clear about the following points:
• The people who are responsible for the deaths of our daddy Sean, Sheila Lewis and Gerard Curran, were those who planted the bomb, the IRA. They showed a shocking disregard for our families, and the people of Creggan.
• We believe, however, that the RUC were equally culpable. This report by the Police Ombudsman substantiated our complaint in a number of areas.
The report confirms that
• The RUC failed in their duty to advise the local community or its leaders of possible IRA activities in the area.
• The RUC failed in their responsibility to uphold our daddy’s right to life under Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
• The RUC failed in their duty to properly investigate the death of our father and Mrs Lewis.
We believe that the RUC allowed this to happen because they were protecting an informant. The Police Ombudsman says he found no evidence that Police acted to protect an informant.
However, the Ombudsman was hindered in his investigation of this issue by the non co-operation of senior former officers both within the District Command and Special Branch. The report also states that documents and minutes of meetings were missing for reasons that have not been explained to this investigation.
• We intend to take legal advice as a result of the findings of this report.
It will be obvious to any reasonable person reading this report that there was an informer in the IRA in Derry providing on-going, reliable information to Special Branch- intelligence that Special Branch was passing on to the RUC District Command in Derry. We do not know whether this agent was being directed by Special Branch or the Security Service, M15.
It is also obvious to any reasonable person that these three deaths could have been avoided had the RUC contacted a community representative or parish priest. This action would have protected the community and also protected the security forces. The RUC did not do this. They allowed the bomb to remain in situ, in the middle of a high-density block of maisonettes, for five days – putting lives at risk.
Whilst we are focusing on our daddy’s case, our thoughts today are with the families of Sheila Lewis and Gerard Curran. We also acknowledge that that terrible day had another tragic consequence: Gerry Laird, the occupant of the flat, took his own life some years later.
We accept the findings of this report. After 25 years of lies, deception and evasion, we finally feel vindicated. However we have no sense of jubilation. These finding are long overdue. We are sad that our brother Jim, who died two years ago, did not live to see this report.
We would like to thank all the staff of the Pat Finucane Centre, past and present, for their on-going support over the last nine years. We would also like to acknowledge the recent good work of the new Police Ombudsman and his team.
- Report shows police bomb failings (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Report says RUC let down residents (bbc.co.uk)
- RUC should have ‘done more’ to protect three people killed in IRA bomb (irishtimes.com)
- British PSNI/MI5 STICH-UP RELEASE CHRISTINE CONNOR (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Police Failed Over IRA ‘Good Samaritan’ Bomb (news.sky.com)
- RUC knew flat had a bomb in it. Three died because they kept quiet (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Bomb victim’s family slam ‘lies’ (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Police failed to warn public over 1988 bomb in Londonderry, report finds (newsletter.co.uk)