Northern Ireland news

IRA victim's daughter backs Paul O'Connor as funder says it will continue to support Pat Finucane Centre

Pat Finucane Centre director Paul O'Connor has received the support of the daughter of IRA bomb victim Eugene Dalton. Picture by Julien Behal/PA Wire
Seamus McKinney

A SECOND funder says it will continue to grant aid the Pat Finucane Centre as police consider an admission by director Paul O’Connor that he joined the IRA as a teenager.

The Victims and Survivors Service (VSS) said it was content that the Derry-based human rights group met the terms and conditions to continue funding.

It came as the daughter of a Derry man killed in one of the IRA’s most notorious bombings publicly backed Mr O’Connor.

Rosaleen Dalton’s father Eugene (54) died in an IRA explosion in 1988 when he went to check on a neighbour who had not been seen for a number of days.

His neighbour Sheila Lewis (68) was also killed in the blast which became known as the “Good Samaritan bombing”.

A third neighbour, Gerard Curran (57), died seven months later.

In a social media post, Ms Dalton said: “Paul O’Connor has gone above and beyond to help our family. My father was murdered by the IRA in 1988, 'the good Samaritan bombing' - we would have got nowhere without the help of PFC. He has my full support. His involvement as a child has never been a secret or an issue.”

Former IRA man, Shane Paul O'Doherty made his original accusations in a blog.

Mr O’Connor has admitted that he joined the IRA as a 15-year-old in 1970. He remained in the organisation until he was ordered to leave in 1972 for disobeying orders.

The Derry man came clean about his past after a blog by another former IRA man, Shane Paul O’Doherty, said he joined they Provisional IRA at the same meeting in 1970.

However, Mr O’Connor rejected an account of the death of another teenage IRA man, Jim O’Hagan (16), who was fatally wounded in 1971.

He denied any part in the shooting which occurred at a bomb-making factory.

Paul O'Connor said it was reasonable for people to think a youth pictured carrying a gun in 1970s Derry was him.

Mr O’Connor said he was sick on the night in question although he confirmed that the dying youth was brought to his family home in Derry’s Waterside which was nearby. He said the youth died later in hospital.

The VSS said it awarded funding against set criteria to groups which made a “positive difference to the lives of victims and survivors”.

A spokesman said: “The Pat Finucane Centre is one such organisation. We are content that the terms and conditions of the grant are being met.

“We understand that this issue is now under consideration by the PSNI and it would therefore not be appropriate to comment any further at this stage. We will continue to work with the Pat Finucane Centre and monitor any considerations by the PSNI as appropriate.”

The VSS comments follow a similar statement by another funder, the Republic’s Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), earlier this week.

While confirming the PFC was in “full compliance” with its “reconciliation fund” criteria, a spokesman said DFA expected all centre staff to cooperate fully with any police investigation.

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