Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Omagh bombing probe to be published

Michael Maguire's investigation into the Omagh bombing is to be published

A Police Ombudsman investigation into a bombing in Northern Ireland which killed 29 people will be published imminently, it was revealed.

The Real IRA attack in Omagh 16 years ago was the worst single atrocity of the Troubles. The victims included a woman who was pregnant with twins.

Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire's probe into how security force intelligence was disseminated is complete and a report is being compiled.

Relatives of those killed when the massive car bomb exploded on a busy shopping street on August 15, 1998, gathered in the Co Tyrone town on Sunday for an interdenominational service of remembrance at the memorial garden.

The Ombudsman's office, which independently investigates police work, launched an inquiry after a report by a group of MPs outlined remaining questions surrounding the bombing.

In March 2010 the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee called for a new investigation into whether intelligence relating to those suspected of the bombing was passed on to detectives investigating it and if not, why not.

The committee also concluded that questions remain about whether the bombing could have been pre-empted by action against terrorists who carried out earlier bombings in 1998.

It also sought a definitive statement on whether the names of those thought to have been involved in the bombing were known to the intelligence services, police special branch or the wider Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in the days immediately after the bombing and if so, why no arrests resulted.

In 2001 former Ombudsman Dame Nuala O'Loan carried out a report on Omagh into the police's handling of warnings received from an informer.

She concluded they would not have been enough to stop the bombing but check points could have been erected around the town if police had reacted to a separate anonymous caller about a planned gun attack.

In April this year a 43-year-old man from the Republic of Ireland was charged with the murders.

Seamus Daly, from Culloville, County Monaghan, was arrested by serious crime branch detectives.

Nobody has been convicted of murder at Omagh.

However, relatives of some of the victims brought a landmark civil action against five men they claimed were responsible.

Four of the five men were ordered to pay more than £1.5 million in damages to the victims' families in a civil case.

Families are engaged in a fresh bid for a civil case challenging Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers' decision to rule out holding a public inquiry into the case. The matter is due before the High Court in Belfast next month.

Michael Gallagher lost his son Aiden, 21, during the bombing and helped organise Sunday's service which he said recognised the plight of other victims world wide.

"Particularly this year we have seen an increase in violence around the world with the Malaysian airliner being shot down, the kidnapping of 125 young children by Boko Haram in Nigeria and the trouble in Syria and Iraq."

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