‘Good Samaritan Bombing’ family win Court of Appeal judgment against Attorney General for Northern Ireland

Joint Statement from KRW Law & the Pat Finucane Centre


Earlier today, the Court of Appeal handed down judgment in the appeal of Rosaleen Dalton, against the judgment of the High Court in 2017.


Rosaleen’s sister Dorothy had applied to the Attorney General for a fresh inquest into the death of their father, Eugene Dalton, from the horrific IRA ‘Good Samaritan Bombing’ in Derry in August 1988. This request followed a very critical report by the Police Ombudsman into the Bombing, in response to a request by the Dalton family in 2005. The Attorney General had refused an inquest and the High Court had agreed with the Attorney General’s decision. Dorothy had appealed the decision, but sadly died before the appeal could be heard. Rosaleen then continued what Dorothy had begun.


Today, the Court of Appeal made it clear that the High Court and the Attorney General had both erred in law when considering the way in which Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights applied to the case. On this point, the Court held that the duty to investigate under Article 2 is revived not only when there are perpetrators to bring to justice, but also when evidence emerges pointing to State failures to protect life. 1


A spokesperson from KRW Law said:


“We are grateful to the Court of Appeal for unanimously allowing our client’s appeal and for providing much needed and welcome clarity to the law. This is an important judgment, not only for Legacy cases, but in cases involving the Attorney General’s power to order fresh inquests.”


A spokesperson from the Pat Finucane said:


“This is an important step forward for the Dalton family. Although they have repeatedly stated that those that planted the bomb were responsible for the death of their father, Sheila Lewis and Gerard Curran, the family have legitimate questions concerning the role of the State and their failures to protect life.

It is also an important judgement for other families who have been denied a proper, effective investigation into the death(s) of their loved ones.”

1 The Court also concluded that the Article 2 duty had been revived in 2005 with the Dalton family’s initial complaint, and was not satisfied by the Ombudsman’s report.