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Victims' families critical of Dallat

(Keith Bourke, Irish News)

A row has broken out between the families of murdered Sinn Féin members in south Derry and the SDLP's John Dallat.

Relatives of murder victims Thomas Donaghy, Danny Cassidy, John Davey and Gerard Casey, have accused the East Derry assembly member of not speaking out at the time of the killings. Mr Dallat has denied the accusation.

The four men murdered in the late eighties and early nineties were the victims of alleged collusion between the police and loyalist paramilitaries.

Thomas Donaghy, a Sinn Féin worker, and former IRA prisoner was shot by the UDA/UFF as he arrived for work near Kilrea on August 16 1991.

Danny Cassidy (40) from Bladden Place, Kilrea, was shot in the town on April 2 1992.

On February 14 1989 John Davey, a 58-year-old Sinn Féin councillor was shot by the UVF as he returned home after attending a meeting of Magharafelt District Council.

Gerard Casey, a member of the IRA's north Antrim brigade, was shot in his home in Rasharkin, Co Antrim by loyalist paramilitaries on the April 4 1989.

In a statement to The Irish News – signed by John Donaghy, Una Casey, Laurence Cassidy and Maria Davey O'Neill – Mr. Dallat and the SDLP were accused of using the subject of collusion and state violence purely for political opportunism.

But Mr Dallat defended his record of speaking out against the victims of police collusion.

"My record on violence irrespective of where it came from is and always has been crystal clear," he said.

"The records will show that in the case of the murder of Danny Cassidy I had lodged complaints about harassment with the divisional commander of the RUC before he was actually murdered. On previous occasions I accompanied him, at his request to the police station to make complaints.

"When Bishop Edward Daly made reference to my complaints at his funeral the police initially denied it but by the next day retracted their statement and confirmed that I had made complaints about police behaviour towards Mr. Cassidy."

Mr. Dallat said he was shocked by the comments.

"It is very hurtful to learn that I have been accused of remaining silent," he said.

"No-one has been more outspoken about the murder of people than I have been and that is why I and my family live behind bullet proof glass and reinforced doors and fences.

"It is also the reason why I spent hours being held at checkpoints and abused when those who wish to criticise me now were nowhere to be seen or heard."

December 6, 2005

This article appeared first in the December 5, 2005 edition of the Irish News.

This article appears thanks to the Irish News. Subscribe to the Irish News