Report into IRA ‘good neighbours bomb’ released next week

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A report into one of the most reviled bombings by the Provisional IRA in Londonderry during the Troubles is to be released by the Police Ombudsman’s Office next Tuesday morning, July 9.

Dubbed by the media as the ‘good neighbours bomb’, the explosion happened at Kildrum Gardens in Creggan estate on August 31, 1988.

Three people were killed in the booby trap explosion which was designed to draw the security forces to a flat in the area. One was 55-year-old Sean Dalton, a widower and father of six and the others were Sheila Lewis and Thomas Curran. Mr Dalton’s wife had died just three weeks before the explosion.

The three victims went to the flat to enquire about the welfare of a neighbour who had not been seen for some days.

Thomas Curran was about to climb in through a window of the home, when Sean Dalton intervened saying he was fitter. After entering the flat and whilst approaching the front door there was an explosion which demolished the flat and killed Sean Dalton and Sheila Lewis, a 60-year-old widow instantly. Mrs Lewis was blown off the balcony and landed 20 feet below, buried under masonry.

Mr Curran received a head injury, but whilst initially thought to be minor it is believed this contrubuted to his death seven months later. Immediately after the blast other residents rushed to the scene. The IRA said it had planted the booby-trap in an attempt to kill members of an army search team and aplogised to the families of those killed.

At the funeral mass for the first two victims, then Bishop of Derry, Dr Edward Daly referring to the IRA apology said that the bombing had not gone tragically wrong but had done what it was designed to do- kill people who had gone to the flat out of concern for the missing occupant.

He said: “It must also be said that we do not want to hear anymore apologies from the IRA or anyone else. We seek an end to all of this death and destruction which is destroying our people and destroying the city. Bishop Daly referred to the biblical parable of the Good Samaritan, he said that it provided a powerful example of the contrasts of good and evil.

At the inquest into the deaths it emerged via a statement from the flat’s occupant that he and a friend had been kidnapped by the IRA and held for six days, during which time they were kept blindfolded or their captors wore masks. On the day of the explosion they were driven back to the city and released.

Six years later relatives of Sean Dalton claimed the police had been negligent in allowing civilians to approach the flat, alleging the RUC were aware it was booby-trapped. There were also claims the bomb was left in place to protect an informant. The Dalton family however stressed that the IRA were ultimately responsible for the deaths but also said the RUC should have accepted their own responsibilities.

The Police Ombudsman’s report will be lauched at 10am on Tuesday, July 9 at Ramada DaVinci’s Hotel in Londonderry.