New documents which have come to light following the publication of a Police Ombudsman’s report stating the RUC failed to act to prevent a 1988 bomb attack in Creggan which killed three people, show that the both the RUC and PSNI persistently provided misleading information to the family of one of those killed.
The report by Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, which was published on Wednesday, found that the police had information that there was an IRA booby trap bomb in a property in Creggan for five days before it exploded but failed to act or warn those living nearby of the danger.
Sean Dalton and Sheila Lewis were killed instantly when the bomb exploded in a flat at 38 Kildrum Gardens on August 31, 1988. Gerard Curran died seven months later from injuries sustained in the blast. They had gone to the flat out of concern for the welfare of a neighbour who had not been seen for a week, when they triggered the booby trap device. The IRA had abducted the occupant of the flat and set up the bomb to target members of the security forces.
In 1991 the family, through MacDermott and McGurk solicitors, wrote to the RUC chief constable with a series of questions on the investigation into the bombing. The response from the Chief Constable’s office, dated December 31st 1991, states that the RUC were unable to comment as the case “is still under investigation.”
However, the Police Ombudsman’s report stated: “The murder investigation had effectively been closed down in 1989.”
In 2002 the family wrote to the PSNI Chief Constable with a fresh request for information. The reply dated May 9, 2002, from the Chief Constable’s office stated: “The police had no information at that time which lead (sic) them to believe that there was an explosive device in or near 38 Kildrum Gardens.”
In his report, Dr Maguire found: “I believe that there was sufficient intelligence and information available to the police to have identified the location of the bomb in 38 Kildrum Gardens or very close by.”
Paul O’Connor from the Pat Finucane Centre described the findings as shocking. “What these documents show is that in 1991 and again in 2002 different legal teams representing the family were 100 per cent correct in the questions they were asking yet both the RUC and the PSNI - at the top level within the chief constable’s office - persisted in misleading the family. The truth was there all along yet the family had to wring it out of them kicking and screaming 25 years later,” he said.