RUC ‘old guard’ trying to close ranks: Pat Finucane Centre

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A Derry human rights group say the body representing retired RUC officers should be ashamed for adding to the pain of the families of those killed in the 1988 ‘good samaritan’ bombing in Derry.

Paul O’Connor, of the Pat Finucane Centre, said the Northern Ireland Retired Police Officers’ Association’s (NIRPOA) threats to withdraw support for historical investigations in the wake of a Police Ombudsman’s report into the Creggan killings 25 years ago will “be seen by most fair minded people as a pathetic attempt by the old guard to close ranks and defend the indefensible.”

NIRPOA yesterday said it had written to Justice Minister David Ford to lodge a complaint about the Ombudsman’s report into the deaths of Eugene Dalton, Sheila Lewis and Gerard Curran in an IRA booby trap bomb in August 1988.

The body said that, until certain conditions were met, it could 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. Former Assistant Chief Constable, Raymond White, an Executive member of the NIRPOA, said that in the report the Ombudsman had “misdirected himself both as to fact and to the law.”

Mr White said NIRPOA has published a 30 page “detailed rebuttal” of the Police Ombudsman’s findings. But last night, Mr O’Connor said NIRPOA “should be ashamed for the added pain that they have caused to these families.”

He said the Dalton family, who referred the case to the Police Ombudsman in 2005, was given no indication of yesterday’s developments.

“It is typical of the way they and the other families have been treated in this sorry saga that they were not even informed in advance. The 30 page ‘rebuttal’ from NIRPOA has not been made available to the family.”

Mr O’Connor said it was surprising that Mr White, a former Special Branch officer, rather than the NIRPOA chairman David Turkington, had made yesterday’s announcement.

Mr O’Connor maintained that in his role as District Commander of the RUC in Derry at the time, Mr Turkington should have first hand knowledge of the intelligence available in the lead-up to the explosion.

“However, he refused to co-operate with the Ombudsman’s investigation as did officers in Special Branch,” he said.