Belfast Telegraph

Combined effort could have foiled Omagh bomb, court told

By Alan Erwin

A range of intelligence material could have been drawn together before the Omagh bombing in a bid to stop the killers in their tracks, the High Court heard.

A judge was told British security agents, MI5 and RUC officers may have been able to combine information that would have prevented the atrocity.

The claim came as the father of one of the victims continued his legal bid to force the Government to hold a public inquiry into the Real IRA attack. Michael Gallagher's son Aiden was among 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, killed in the outrage on August 15, 1998.

In September 2013, Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers rejected calls for a public inquiry, deciding instead that a then ongoing Police Ombudsman investigation was the best way to address any outstanding issues.

Last October, the Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, published a report where he found RUC Special Branch withheld some intelligence information from detectives hunting the bombers.

No one has ever been convicted of carrying out the attack, but Seamus Daly, a 44-year-old bricklayer from Cullaville, Co Monaghan, is currently charged with the 29 murders which he denies.

Pressing ahead with the bid to have Ms Villiers' decision judicially reviewed, Mr Gallagher's barrister argued that neither the latest Police Ombudsman's findings nor the charges against Daly detracts from his challenge.

Paul McLaughlin, responding for the Secretary of State, stressed that there have already been four separate Police Ombudsman examinations linked to Omagh.

In the latest report, Dr Maguire concluded nothing had been identified which could have prevented the atrocity.

Following submissions, Mr Justice Treacy confirmed he will rule next week on whether to grant leave to seek a judicial review.

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