Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Minister makes Omagh probe pledge

Stanley McComb, Michael Gallagher and Sara Brennan from the Omagh Self Help and Support Group arrive at Leinster House in Dublin
Stanley McComb, Michael Gallagher and Sara Brennan from the Omagh Self Help and Support Group arrive at Leinster House in Dublin
Stanley McComb, Michael Gallagher, Patsy Gallagher, Cat Wilkinson and Sara Brennan from the Omagh Self Help and Support Group

Ireland's Justice Minister will consult the Garda Commissioner over calls for a cross-border public inquiry into the Omagh bomb.

Relatives of victims of the 1998 atrocity met Alan Shatter in Dublin and handed over an independent report reviewing all the investigations and court cases held since the IRA bombing.

They have also challenged Taoiseach Enda Kenny to honour a pledge he made before taking office to fight for justice for those affected by the blast, which killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins.

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan lost his life in the bomb, led the delegation to the Irish parliament.

"Minister Shatter told us he would personally consider and reflect on the report," said Mr Gallagher after the meeting. "He acknowledged there are likely to be some very unpalatable issues that have arisen and he will need to share it with the Garda Commissioner."

Mr Shatter confirmed he would consult the commissioner and thanked the group for their visit.

"The atrocity at Omagh was a callous and brutal act of murder carried out by people with no regard for human life," said Mr Shatter. "I share with the Omagh relatives and with all right-thinking people the aim of doing all we reasonably can to try to prevent any repeat of such an awful tragedy."

Mr Gallagher said the report, which included analyses of different strands of investigations undertaken by MI5, MI6, the FBI and An Garda Siochana, found the bomb could have been prevented had the different forces shared intelligence.

"We told the minister that we don't want this treated in a piecemeal fashion," said Mr Gallagher. "It's a very serious and factually-based report, and the issues not only affect the British Government, but the Irish Government too. And even the US to an extent."

Mr Gallagher, a campaigner for the Omagh Support and Self Help Group, said he appealed to Mr Shatter to help bring closure to Omagh. He said a cross-border public inquiry was the only way to do so - as numerous other past reports and investigations dealt with small, separate issues and failed to piece the whole story together.

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