‘Good Samaritan Bombing’ family granted Leave to challenge Attorney General



The family of Sean Dalton, one of three people killed in the 1988 Good Samaritan Bombing in Derry, have been granted leave to challenge the refusal of the Attorney General (AG) to grant a fresh inquest in the case. Sean Dalton, Sheila Lewis and Gerard Curran died when a IRA booby trap bomb exploded in a flat in the Kildrum Gardens area of Creggan, Derry on 31 August 1988. The three were concerned for the welfare of a neighbour who hadn’t been seen for a week. The booby trap bomb, intended for the security forces, exploded when they entered the flat.


A Police Ombudsman investigation found that the RUC was aware of the bomb plot in advance and had failed to warn residents or evacuate the area for over six days. Instead the immediate area was declared ‘out of bounds’ to the security forces. As a result of the findings lawyers for the Dalton family applied for a fresh inquest and it was the refusal by the AG to grant this inquest that led to the judgement in the High Court today (Friday)


Speaking outside the court the Dalton family welcomed the granting of leave. “We have been met with obstructions, denials and refusals but we have no intention of giving up now. The report of the Police Ombudsman was one victory, this ruling is another. After so many years and the new revelations in the PONI report it is vital that we are granted a new inquest. “


Kevin Winters said:


“This is an important grant of leave to move toward a full hearing of this judicial review challenge of the Attorney’s interpretation of his powers to order fresh inquests into conflict related legacy cases and to reject the engagement of investigatory obligations upon the authorities when Article 2 of the ECHR has been violated. This is a good result for the family of Eugene Dalton and possibly many other relatives of the victims of the Conflict who see inquests as a mechanism to obtain truth, justice and accountability when other mechanisms failed them in the past and are failing them now. Legacy inquests cannot proceed unless resourced and the recent failure to provide the necessary funding for legacy inquests does a grave disservice to those families seeking to exercise their legal right to investigatory mechanisms.”


Paul O’Connor of the PFC added:


“This is an important step on the long and tortuous journey to discover what happened before, during and after August 31 1988. Ultimately the IRA bears responsibility for what occurred but it is clear that the security forces were also complicit in allowing this attack to proceed in order to protect an agent within the Derry Brigade of the IRA. The subsequent response to the Ombudsman report from the Retired Police Officers Association added to the controversy and, as can be read in the judgement, the RPOA did themselves no favours in responding as they did. In addition the court took note of the refusal by a number of retired senior RUC officers to cooperate with the Ombudsman.”