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'Dad never got over loss of our mum at Omagh'

By Anna Maguire

The family of Laurence Rush, who died on Sunday morning 14 years after his wife was killed in the Omagh bomb, said he never recovered from her death.

The 70-year-old passed away at Knockmoyle Lodge nursing home outside his native Omagh — where he was being cared for following a stroke in November last year.

His daughter Siobhan O’Neill said her father was never the same after he lost his wife Elizabeth in the August 1998 atrocity which claimed 29 lives.

“We are just all glad he is at peace and we hope he finds happiness,” she told the Belfast Telegraph yesterday.

Mr Rush died on Sunday morning surrounded by his family. He would have turned 71 in just over a week’s time.

On August 15, 1998 Elizabeth was serving at the family-run coffee shop on the town’s Market Street when she was killed in the Real IRA bomb.

Yesterday, Siobhan said: “We probably lost him the day my mum died.

“We felt he was never the same in our eyes. We lost the father or the person we knew.”

Laurence and Elizabeth, who was from Killyclogher, near Omagh, had been together since they were teenagers.

He identified her body the day after the explosion. At the time he said: “I have lost not only my wife, I have lost my soulmate.”

Mr Rush became a fierce campaigner for justice for victims of the bombing. “That’s what kept him going,” Ms O’Neill told the Belfast Telegraph.

She described the grandfather and great-grandfather-of-one as a man with a huge personality.

Local MLA Joe Byrne — who knew Mr Rush when he was an art teacher at Omagh College and through his work with Omagh Boys’ and Girls’ Boxing Club — said he would be sorely missed.

He added: “He channelled his grief into campaigning for justice as long as he was able.”

Ulster Unionist MLA and victims' spokesperson Mike Nesbitt added: “Those who carry out and support terrorism should reflect on the life sentences they impose on people like Laurence Rush.”

Mr Rush will be laid to rest tomorrow morning following Requiem Mass at Sacred Heart Church, Drumragh.

He is survived by Siobhan, sons Andrew and Anthony, grandchildren Niamh, Malachy, Cathaoir, Libby, Keelin and Ryker, and great-grandson Caleb.

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