Devenny files will stay secret until 2022

Sammy Devenny's daughter, Ann, pictured alongside a photograph of her late father.  (DER0614PG005)

Sammy Devenny's daughter, Ann, pictured alongside a photograph of her late father. (DER0614PG005)

Secret files that could contain crucial information about the death of Derry man Sammy Devenny in 1969 have been reclassified and will remain under wraps until at least 2022.

Sammy Devenny, a 43-year-old father of nine from the Bogside, died three months after he and his family were assaulted by RUC officers at his home in William Street on April 19, 1969.

Mr Devenny is regarded by many as the first victim of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

It’s now emerged that the Metropolitan Police in London have re-classified a number of files relating to Mr. Devenny’s death until the year 2022 - that’s more than half a century after his death.

It was in December 2012 that the Met decided not to release two files to the National Archives but to retain them for at least another ten years.

Human rights group the Pat Finucane Centre then issued a Freedom of Information request seeking access to the two files on behalf of the Devenny family. This was subsequently refused with an official on behalf of the Met saying: “After weighing up the competing interests, I have determined that the disclosure of the above information would not be in the public interest.”

The Met have confirmed that the closed files are not due for review until 2022, at which point they will again be assessed before any decision is taken about opening them.

It’s a move that has angered the Devenny family. Christine Robson, Sammy’s daughter, said: “We have had some closure with the Ombudsman Report in 2001 - however, the officers involved have never been charged and were protected by others. There is information in those files that we have a right to see.”

Mr. Devenny’s son, Jim, added: “Families like ours and thousands of others have a right to know what happened and we shouldn’t be depending on the whim of the Met, PSNI, Ministry of Defence or other official bodies to release documents. There is still a wall of silence.”

Sara Duddy, from the Pat Finucane Centre, said: “We can only assume these files contain information damaging to the RUC, possibly the details of the RUC officers involved in the brutal attack on Sammy Devenny and others within the Devenny household in April 1969. Why else would the Met feel the need to keep this information closed 45 years after the attack?”


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