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The Good Samartian Bombing: challenge to the Attorney General to order a new inquest

Press release from the Pat Finucane Centre

The family of Eugene Dalton, killed in what has become known as The Good Samaritan Bombing in Derry in 1987, have applied to challenge a decision of the Attorney General for Northern Ireland not to order a new inquest into his death. On Monday 19 October the High Court in Belfast will hear the arguments of both sides as to whether this challenge should be granted leave for a full hearing on this important Conflict related Legacy matter.

KRW LAW LLP is instructed by the family of Eugene Dalton and many others families of victims killed during the Conflict who have made applications to the Attorney General to exercise his power to order new inquests either because of the inadequacies of the original inquest or because of new evidence or the failing of other mechanisms of investigation such as PONI or the defunct PSNI HET. The inquest process is an important element of the mechanisms to achieve justice, truth and accountability for the human violations suffered during the Conflict.

The Attorney General has steadfastly decline to exercise this power in the majority of such applications before him. His arguments have been unpersuasive and should be viewed against his public comments regarding his views on prosecutions for Conflict related crimes. His arguments are – we have argued – also not sustainable in terms of UK and European human rights law. Now his arguments will be tested in court.

Should this leave application be granted then this will be the first time the decision-making powers of the Attorney General have come under judicial scrutiny and tested. Should the judiciary find that the Attorney General has exercised his powers wrongly then he will be forced to re-examine all the applications for new inquests.

This would include that into the death of Eugene Dalton whose murder, we argue, was not properly investigated at the time, could have been prevented because of what was known by the British Security Forces and the RUC about the bomb – a PONI investigation into a complaint made by the family of Eugene Dalton was hampered by the failure of former retired RUC officers to assist in that investigation which lead to separate legal proceedings.

The Good Samaritan Bombing is now also subject to prospective legal proceedings against the British government because the bomb used to kill Mr Dalton was made from Libyan supplied Semtex – compensation for the victims of which was blocked in 2008.

In the absence of a human rights compliant mechanism of investigation into all Conflict related deaths and injuries, families such as that of Eugene

Dalton are forced to battle for truth, justice and accountability through the courts including against the decisions of law officers within who they should have the ability to trust for fair and reasonable decision-making, without the influence of any personal opinion.

Originally published on Facebook by the Pat Finucane Centre.

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