Families hold out hope for a fresh inquest on 30th anniversary of 'Good Neighbour' killings

The devastation following the IRA bomb in the Creggan estate on August 31 1988

On the 30th anniversary of an IRA booby trap bomb that killed three people - who were on a mission of mercy to check on a missing neighbour - the family of one of the victims say they still hold out hope of a fresh inquest and answers about their father's death. Security correspondent Allison Morris reports.

SEAN Dalton was a widower with six children when he was killed in a huge explosion at flats in the Creggan estate in Derry.

The family home was also destroyed in the blast at Kildrum Gardens in an attack that became known as the Good Samaritan bomb.

Mr Dalton's friend and neighbour Sheila Lewis (68) was also killed while Gerard Curran (57) died sometime later from his injuries.

The trio of concerned neighbours triggered the bomb after going into the flat to check on the welfare of the man who lived there as he hadn’t been seen for a week.

It later emerged that the flat owner had been abducted by the IRA and held at a location in the Bogside area of the city for six days.

The organisation admitted it had planted the bomb and had intended to kill members of the British Army searching for the kidnapped man.

In a statement released in the hours after the explosion the IRA said: "This operation was designed to inflict casualties on members of the British Army search squad who were in the area adding that "at no stage was it anticipated that a member of the public would enter the flat and open the booby trapped door".

Bishop of Derry Edward Daly, who celebrated Requiem Mass for both 54 year-old Mr Dalton and Mrs Lewis, describing them as people of "remarkable goodness and sanctity" adding that their deaths "presented a powerful parable between good and evil".

In 2013 Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire published the findings of an eight year long investigation into the attack and the police operation in the days before and after the explosion.

It followed a complaint from the Dalton family and confirmed that the RUC had known and failed in their duty to advise the local community or its leaders of possible IRA activities in the area, and later failed in their duty to properly investigate the death of Mr Dalton and Mrs Lewis.

A number of suspects were arrested but no-one has ever been charged with the murders.

Dr Maguire stated that he found no evidence that police acted to protect an informant. However he did say that he was hindered by former senior RUC Special Branch officers to co-operate with his investigation.

The Attorney General John Larkin turned down a request by the Dalton family for a fresh inquest to examine their father’s death.

The family have appealed that decision and the case is expected to be heard in October.

In a statement to The Irish News last night the Dalton family said two of their siblings, Jim and Dorothy, had died during their campaign for justice.

"All the while there are resources available, yet we are hampered by the lack of government," the family said.

"Every time we attend court our feelings of devastation, frustration, and sadness return, every time we get knocked back we feel our father’s life is undervalued as we have all felt from the early days.

"We are thankful for the support of family who have lost out on their granda's love wisdom and humour, our legal team and the Pat Finucane centre, who without their help we would be nowhere.

"We will continue to fight and pray for a satisfactory resolution in the near future."

The Pat Finucane Centre (PFC) who have supported the Dalton family said: "The Dalton family and PFC 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 devasting 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".

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