‘State bears responsibility for failings in its duties’

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The family of Sean Dalton have been denied crucial information regarding the circumstances surrounding their father’s death, a spokesperson for the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC) has said.

In a statement released alongside that of the family on the 30th anniversary of Mr Dalton’s death, the PFC spokesperson said the family were convinced this was due to the State protecting ‘an informer.’

In July, 2013, the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland (OPONI), Dr Michael Maguire, published his findings in respect of an eight-years long investigation.

During that time, Sean Dalton’s youngest son, Jim, passed away before the conclusion of the investigation.

The report by the OPONI substantiated the Dalton family’s complaint in a number of areas.

It confirmed that:

* The RUC failed in its duty to advise the local community or its leaders of possible IRA activities in the area.

* The RUC failed in its responsibility to uphold Mr Dalton’s right to life under Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

* The RUC failed in its duty to properly investigate the death of Mr. Dalton and Mrs. Lewis.

The Dalton family believe that the RUC allowed this to happen because they had been protecting an informant. The Police Ombudsman stated that he found no evidence that police acted to protect an informant.

However, the Ombudsman was hindered in his investigation of this issue by the non-co-operation of senior former officers, both within the District Command and Special Branch.

Following a failed Judicial Review by the Retired Police officers’ Association (NIRPOA), further information strengthened the Dalton’s belief that an agent was involved.

The family asked the Attorney General to grant a fresh inquest to examine their father’s death and crucially allow the Coroner to compel retired officers to take the stand.

This was turned down and for over two years the Dalton family has been engaged in an appeal of that decision.

While awaiting the appeal, Sean’s youngest daughter, Dorothy, passed away.

The Court of Appeal will now hear the case on October 8 this year.

In its statement the Pat Finucance Centre said: “The Dalton family and Pat Finucane Centre have repeatedly stated that it was the IRA who were responsible for these deaths. However, the State bears responsibility for failing in their duties.

“The Dalton family continue to be denied information relating to the circumstances of their father’s death.

“They believe that the desire of the State to protect an agent was put above the right to life of their father, Gerard Curran and Sheila Lewis.

“In the summer of 1988 the Dalton family lost their mother to natural causes, their father and their home. It is hard to imagine a more devastating loss for one family to bear in such a short period of time.

“The Dalton family continue to pursue truth and justice for their father.”

The spokesperson added: “The British Government is currently consulting on proposals to deal with the legacy of our past.

“We would urge victims and survivors to consider these proposals and respond before September 10.”

* Local people can make their views known via email to: legacy consultation@nio.gov.uk or via post to: Legacy Policy Team, Northern Ireland Office, Stormont House, Stormont Estate, Belfast, BT4 3SH.

Alternatively people can submit their contribution online or find out further information at: www.gov.uk/government/consultations/addressing-the-legacy-of-northern-irelands-past