The body representing retired police officers in the North has threatened to withdraw its support for historical investigations in the wake of a report into the 1988 ‘good samaritan’ bombing in Derry.
The Northern Ireland Retired Police Officers’ Association (NIRPOA) today said it has written to the Justice Minister David Ford to lodge a complaint about the Police Ombudsman’s report into the deaths of Eugene Dalton, Sheila Lewis and Gerard Curran in an IRA booby trap bomb in Creggan in 1988.
And the body said that until certain conditions are met, it can no longer encourage its members to engage with the Ombudsman in the investigation of historical incidents.
Published in July the Ombudsman’s report into the 1988 deaths determined that the RUC knew about the bomb but failed to warn those living nearby about the danger.
Eugene Dalton and Sheila Lewis were killed when the bomb exploded in a flat at 38 Kildrum Gardens on August 31, 1988. A third person, Gerard Curran, died later from injuries sustained in the blast.
They had gone to look for a neighbour who had not been seen for a week when they triggered the booby trap device, which had been planted by the IRA to target the security forces.
The incident became known as the ‘good samaritan’ bombing.
Former Assistant Chief Constable, Raymond White, an Executive member of the NIRPOA said: “The determination that the police failed in their responsibilities to uphold Mr Dalton’s right to life was said to have been reached on the balance of probabilities, which are evidence based and drawn from all sources of information available.
“It is this claim of being evidence based amongst others, which the NIRPOA seeks to show in a detailed analysis of the events leading up to the fatal explosion, that is flawed and as a consequence, the Ombudsman has in the opinion of the association misdirected himself both as to fact and to the law.
“In the view of the association the lack of investigative rigour in the eight-year long inquiry resulted in facts, which were not relevant to the process, becoming an integral part of the alleged evidential package considered by the Ombudsman. The outcome of this was a failure on the part of the Ombudsman to apply the evidential test to the relevant facts i.e. those known to the police before the fatal incident or which reasonably should have been known to them.”
An allegation that Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) has been breached “is a very grave and complex issue to be addressed,” Mr White said.
Mr White said NIRPOA has published a 30 page detailed rebuttal of the Police Ombudsman’s findings.
NIRPOA claimed it had identified “ major legal and procedural failings” with regard to the conduct of investigations alleging breaches of Article 2 of the ECHR.
Mr White said: “We ask to have all such Section 62 Statements halted until the introduction of an appropriate and independent legal mechanism for assessing evidence.
“The response again highlights the need for an independent appeals and complaints mechanism in relation to the Police Ombudsman, as required by Article 13 of ECHR, something which this association has been requesting for over five years.
“Until the above three conditions have been met, this association regrettably, can no longer encourage its members to engage with the Police Ombudsman in the investigation of historical incidents, where breaches of the European Convention on Human rights are alleged.”
Copies of the NIRPOA document have been sent to the Attorney General, the Chief Constable of the PSNI and the Police Ombudsman.