Sammy Devenny files must be declassified, says Colum Eastwood on 50th anniversary of death

On today his 50th anniversary the Metropolitan Police have been urged to declassify secret files relating to the death of Sammy Devenny at the earliest opportunity.

Wednesday, 17th July 2019, 10:52 am
Updated Wednesday, 17th July 2019, 11:52 am
The late Sammy Devenny.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood MLA has called for the urgent disclosure of confidential documents pertaining to the 43-year-old father-of-nine's death on July 17, 1969.

Mr. Devenny died three months after members of the RUC entered his home in William Street and assaulted him and his family on April 19, 1969,

He was the second victim of the Troubles dying three days after 67-year-old Francie McCloskey passed away following an RUC baton charge in Dungiven.

Mr. Eastwood said the Devenny family should not have had to wait fifty years after an inquiry was conducted to access the information it holds.

He was referring to the Metropolitan Police's decision to hold two secret files until 2022 at the earliest.

“The Devenny family have been waiting for almost fifty years for access to an inquiry report into Samuel’s death following an attack by RUC officers. And even now, there’s no guarantee that further obstacles won’t be placed in their path as the date on which the report could be disclosed approaches," said Mr. Eastwood.

The SDLP leader said the Devenny family have been treated in a manner that is "grossly insensitive and unfair" and urged the authorities to disclose the documents at the earliest opportunity.

"The families of all victims deserve access to truth, justice and accountability. Institutional attempts to deny or frustrate that should come to an end.

“No further barriers should face the Devenny family in their campaign for truth. These documents should be disclosed at the earliest possible opportunity," he said.

Report Of The Police Ombudsman For Northern Ireland Into A Complaint Made By The Devenny Family Nuala O'Loan, Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland | 27 September 2001Fifty years ago Detective Chief Superintendent Kenneth Drury of the Metropolitan Police Service was appointed at the request of Sir Arthur Young, the then Chief Constable of the RUC to investigate complaints by the Devenny family about the conduct of the RUC in their home in April 1969.

He reported: "Some of the officers who entered 69 William Street at the time and on the date specified were responsible for the assaults on Sammy Devenny and other aggrieved persons."

"These officers can not be identified," observed Drury.

And he added: "Whilst it is appreciated that officers of the Force on duty in the riot area on the day in question were under extreme provocation, being constantly attacked and sorely tried, there is no evidence that their action against the members of the Devenny family and others in the house could be justified in any way and this code of conduct can never be condoned in any force responsible for the preservation of law and order."

In 2001 the then Police Ombudsman, Nuala O'Loan, reported: "From police records it can be seen that normal supervision and control of the police had broken down.

"Within this context the Devenny family found themselves caught up in a set of events within their home which resulted in injuries and which they believe contributed directly to an exacerbation in their father's heart condition on April 23 and subsequently to his death on July 17."