Belfast Telegraph

Judge rules out Omagh trial delays

A judge in the civil retrial of two men accused of involvement in the Omagh bombing has warned lawyers that he will not let it be held up by endless delays.

Mr Justice John Gillen said it was unsatisfactory that certain preparatory arrangements had not already been made ahead of the case against Colm Murphy and Seamus Daly starting.

Their retrial had been due to commence in Belfast High Court this autumn but was delayed after a defence lawyer fell ill. On Tuesday, Justice Gillen put the start date back to January.

"Once this trial starts it will go on every single day until it finishes," he said. "We are not going to have delays."

Twenty-nine people, including a woman pregnant with twins, died when the Real IRA car bomb ripped through the Co Tyrone market town in August 1998. More than 200 were injured in the blast.

No one has been successfully criminally convicted of the bombing, but in 2009 Murphy, Daly and two others were held responsible in a landmark civil action taken by some of the bereaved families. Along with Real IRA chief Michael McKevitt and Co Louth republican Liam Campbell, the men were ordered to pay £1.6 million in damages.

Murphy, from Dundalk, Co Louth, and Daly, from Cullaville, Co Monaghan, successfully appealed against the ruling but the court subsequently ordered that they should face a civil retrial.

The retrial is set to begin hearing evidence in Belfast High Court on January 14.

McKevitt, who is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence in the Republic for directing terrorism, and Campbell, who is fighting extradition to Lithuania on arms smuggling charges, failed in their bids to overturn the Omagh civil judgment.

At the conclusion of the original case, the families' ground-breaking action had already cost them an estimated £2 million. Not all the families support the legal bid, with some claiming it is a waste of time that will not deliver a prison sentence.

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