PSNI disappointed that ‘a number of retired officers’ did not engage with Ombudsman’s probe

Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie
Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie

PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie has said she finds it “disappointing” that “a number of retired officers felt unable to engage with the Police Ombudman’s investigation into the 1988 bomb in Londonderry.

A report by the Police Ombudsman released today found that police failed to warn people of their fears of a device in the immediate area at the time.

Dr Michael Maguire’s report claims that then police service, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) had sufficient information and intelligence that some sort of device had been left in the vicinity of the flat - but did not alert anybody about the threat even though the area was declared out of bounds to officers after a car used in a gun attack was abandoned and burned out nearby five days previously.

Responding to the report DCC Judith Gillespie said there is a “deep and sincere sorrow” for the deaths of Eugene Dalton, Sheila Lewis and Gerard Curran who died in the blast in the Creggan area, however pointed out that those who planted the bomb were responsible for their deaths.

“The Police Ombudsman’s Report into the bombing and murders at 38 Kildrum Gardens is a stark and terrible reminder of the horrific times that our community lived through,” she said.

“For police officers, whose duty it is to protect life, there is a deep and sincere sorrow for the loss of the lives of Eugene Dalton, Sheila Lewis and Gerard Curran. To their friends and families, on behalf of the Police Service I am truly sorry for the loss of their loved ones.

“The Police Ombudsman has been clear from the outset that the responsibility for the deaths of Mr Dalton, Mrs Lewis and the injuries to Mr Curran rests with those who planted the bomb.”

Ms Gillespie said it is a cause of “deep regret” to the PSNI that no one has been convicted of the bombing.

“One of the key functions of any police service is to bring to account those responsible for such terrible crimes,” she said.

“It is a deep regret that in this case that has not yet been achieved. Today, with the publication of the Police Ombudsman’s report, when the senseless nature of the murders is fresh in people’s minds, I would make a renewed appeal for the people who know who did this to come forward with information.

“Policing has developed enormously over the last twenty five years. PSNI have policies and procedures which guide the police response to information suggesting a threat to life.

“Today, the policing response to a threat to life would be very different and we are grateful that the Ombudsman has recognised this in his report, making no recommendations on changes to current practice.

“The policies ensure compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights, which was incorporated into UK law in October 2000 by the Human Rights Act. In addition, systems, processes and technology for sharing information have developed and become increasingly sophisticated.”

The Deputy Chief Constable added that she found it “disappointing” that “a number of retired officers felt unable to engage” with the Police Ombudsman’s investigation in a way which would have painted a fuller picture and enabled a greater understanding of the challenging and dangerous world in which they were operating”.