Eastwood welcomes rejection of bombing challenge

SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood
SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood

THE dismissal of a legal challenge to a report which identified police failures in relation to the ‘Good Neighbours’ bombing has been welcomed by SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood.

In July of last year, the Police Ombudsman found that officers failed in their duty in relation to an IRA 1988 booby-trap bomb which killed Eugene Dalton, Sheila Lewis and Gerard Curran at a house in Creggan.

Following a complaint by Mr Dalton’s family, the Police Ombudsman found that officers had information about an IRA booby-trap bomb in a house in the Creggan estate, but did nothing to warn residents of the possible danger.

The Foyle Assemblyman has welcomed the dismissal of a legal challenge by retired RUC officers against a report citing police failures over the ‘Good Neighbours’ bombing.

Mr Eastwood said: “The fact that a High Court judge has dismissed the challenge by officers to have the findings quashed is further vindication of what the relatives have been saying all along.

“The Police Ombudsman’s report shows that the police failed to use the information they had clearly been given to take the steps necessary to protect members of the public from an IRA bomb planted in their neighbourhood.

“While the findings should in no way detract from the ultimate culpability of the IRA for this horrendous atrocity, it is clear that the police failed utterly in their duty to protect Eugene Dalton, Sheila Lewis and Gerard Curran.”

Mr Eastwood criticised the Northern Ireland Retired Police Officer’s Association for showing what he called “utter disregard” for the relatives of the deceased in the manner in which they mounted the legal challenge.

“The families were never once contacted by the association or informed that the action was being taken which only served to cause them further misery. No copy of the rebuttal was made available to the family members of the deceased and no advice was given about it despite the fact that the document was circulated widely to a list of unionist politicians. Such actions show utter disregard for the loved ones of those who lost their lives in this deplorable incident.

“The NIRPOA document itself which was littered with errors. It got some of the names of victims wrong, it got the date of the bombing wrong, it got the location wrong and even stated there was a McDonald’s restaurant in Rosemount in 1988.”

Mr Eastwood added that the full truth of police actions in the lead up to the explosion and the subsequent investigation must be made available to the families of those killed.

“The Ombudsman criticised the RUC’s investigation of the bombing as ‘flawed and incomplete’ and stated that the investigation into the Dalton family’s belief that the RUC failed to act in order to protect an informant was hampered by lack of cooperation from retired officers.

“The loved ones of those are entitled to be given the full truth as to what happened and it is vital that all retired officers co-operate fully to ensure the truth is revealed.

“A man was kidnapped by the IRA and had not been seen for six days. His good neighbours came looking for him, and three of them were killed. Sean Dalton and Sheila Lewis were killed at the scene, and Gerard Curran was seriously injured and died seven months later. Their families deserve to know the truth of what happened.”