DUP and Tories question finding of RUC failings around 'Good Samaritan' bomb

The late Sean Dalton.
The late Sean Dalton.

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson this week controversially questioned the Police Ombudsman’s (PONI) 2013 finding that the RUC had failed in its  duty to protect the lives of the victims of the Kildrum Gardens ‘Good Samaritan’ bombing.of 1988.

The IRA booby-trap bomb claimed the lives of Sean Dalton, aged 54, Sheila Lewis, aged 68, and Gerard Curran, aged 57, when it exploded on August 31, 1988.

The device had been left in the area by the IRA and was triggered when the late Mr. Dalton went to check on the welfare of a neighbour. While blame for the atrocity has always been laid squarely with the IRA a detailed PONI report six years ago found that the RUC had wrongly “allowed an explosive device to remain in a location that presented a real and immediate risk to life.”

The families of those killed in the bombing continue to press for answers.

But in the House of Commons this week the DUP questioned the PONI findings.

Mr. Donaldson said: “PONI took eight years to investigate the case and at the end of the investigation, concluded that, on the balance of probabilities, the police had been negligent and had failed to uphold Mr. Dalton’s right to life.

“However, when we examine the police ombudsman’s report, we see that that conclusion is not based on hard evidence or facts; it is based on the balance of probabilities.”

East Derry MP Gregory Campbell also contributed to the debate, stating: “PONI have to ensure, that however intensive and comprehensive its investigations are, it must never allow the emphasis to depart from those who carried out the atrocity by allowing an investigation to stray into areas where more criticism is made of those whose job it is to try to deal with the aftermath rather than dealing with the people who perpetrated the act in the first place.”

And the Conservative MP for Beckenham, Bob Stewart, who claimed to have served as an intelligence officer with the Cheshire Regiment in Derry in 1978, and was company commander at the time of the INLA bombing of the Droppin’ Well bomb in Ballykelly in 1982, also sought to absolve the RUC of any culpability.

“I know the area under discussion.

“How can the police, who always do what they can to save lives, be blamed in any way for what happened?

“As the hon. Member for East Londonderry (Mr Campbell) said, it is definitely something to be laid at the door of the Provisional IRA and the people who actually did it,” he said.