‘Good Samaritan bomb’: Court decision is ‘good result’ for family of Sean Dalton

The late Sean Dalton.

The late Sean Dalton.

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The family of Derry man Sean Dalton, one of three people killed in the 1988 ‘Good Samaritan’ bombing in the Creggan Estate, have been granted leave to challenge the refusal of the Attorney General to grant a fresh inquest into the case.

Sean Dalton and Sheila Lewis died when an IRA booby trap bomb exploded in a flat at Kildrum Gardens on August 31, 1988. Another man, Gerard Curran, later died from his injuries.

The three were concerned for the welfare of a neighbour who hadn’t been seen for a week. The booby trap bomb, intended for the security forces, exploded when they entered the flat.

A Police Ombudsman investigation found that the RUC was aware of the bomb plot in advance and had failed to warn residents or evacuate the area for more than six days. Instead, the immediate area was declared ‘out of bounds’ to the security forces.

As a result of the Ombudsman findings, lawyers for the Dalton family applied for a fresh inquest and it was the refusal by the Attorney General to grant this inquest that led to the judgment in the High Court today (Friday).

Speaking outside the court, the Dalton family welcomed the move.

“We have been met with obstructions, denials and refusals but we have no intention of giving up now,” they said. “The report of the Police Ombudsman was one victory, this ruling is another. After so many years and the new revelations in the PONI report, it is vital that we are granted a new inquest.“

Solicitor Kevin Winters added: “This is a good result for the family of Sean Dalton and possibly many other relatives of the victims of the conflict who see inquests as a mechanism to obtain truth, justice and accountability when other mechanisms failed them in the past and are failing them now.

“Legacy inquests cannot proceed unless resourced and the recent failure to provide the necessary funding for legacy inquests does a grave disservice to those families seeking to exercise their legal right to investigatory mechanisms.”

Paul O’Connor, of the Pat Finucane Centre which has been advising the Daltons, said: “This is another step on the long and tortuous journey to discover what happened before, during and after August 31, 1988. Ultimately, the IRA bears responsibility for what occurred but it is clear that the security forces and the security service MI5 were also complicit in allowing this attack to proceed in order to protect an agent within the Derry Brigade of the IRA.

“The subsequent response to the Ombudsman report from the Retired Police Officers Association added to the controversy and, as can be read in the judgement, the RPOA did themselves no favours in responding as they did. In addition, the court took note of the refusal by a number of retired senior RUC officers to co-operate with the Ombudsman.”