Belfast Telegraph

Omagh bomb accused denied bail: Republican Seamus Daly accused of murdering 29 people

By Alan Erwin

A republican accused of murdering 29 people in the Omagh bomb atrocity must remain in custody, a High Court judge ruled today.

Mr Justice Treacy refused to grant bail to Seamus Daly after rejecting claims that he should be released due to delays in the case.

But he also stressed: "The Public Prosecution Service are under an obligation to progress this case as expeditiously as possible."

No one has ever been found guilty of the August 1998 bomb attack carried out by the Real IRA.

But Daly, a 44-year-old bricklayer, originally from Cullaville, Co Monaghan, and now residing in Jonesborough, Co Armagh, faces 29 counts of murder.

He is also accused of causing the explosion in Omagh and possession of a bomb in the Co Tyrone market town with intent to endanger life or property.

Further charges have been brought against him of conspiring to cause an explosion and having explosives with intent in connection with a separate dissident bomb plot in Lisburn, Co Down in April that year.

Daly, who has a previous conviction in the Irish Republic for IRA membership, has already been found liable for the bombing in a landmark civil action taken by victims' families.

A previous court was told a man named Denis O'Connor claims Daly phoned him on the day of the attack using a mobile suspected of having travelled into Omagh on the bomb run.

Cell-site analysis also allegedly links him to the earlier bomb incident at Lisburn involving a similar modus operandi and warnings.

Prosecutors claimed he gave police a false name - that of his brother - when he was detained in April this year.

Detectives were said to have been looking for him for five years.

At the time of his arrest he provided a prepared statement denying IRA membership or any involvement in either the Lisburn attempted bombing or the attack on Omagh, whose 29 victims included the mother of unborn twins.

As the accused mounted a new bid to be released on bail it was confirmed that no new evidence has been unearthed.

Police are instead relying on material which has been in their possession for up to 16 years, the court heard.

Senior counsel for the accused argued that there was nothing complicated about a case centred on the alleged movement of phones during the bomb run into Omagh.

"It's a very stale case and has not been re-ignited by any new evidence," Michael O'Higgins SC said.

But a prosecution barrister described it as a complex and voluminous investigation.

She disclosed that 15 Lever Arch files of material have been compiled by a new investigation team appointed in 2012.

An international letter of request has also been sent for everything held by the Garda from the time of Daly's original arrest back in 1999.

Mr Justice Treacy had already denied bail to the accused once before back in April.

Ruling today on the renewed application, the judge acknowledged: "There's no new evidence in this case, the relevant material having been available to the authorities for well over a decade."

He pointed out, though, that the prosecution is to provide a detailed update on the case in early January.

"I'm not persuaded at this time that a change of circumstances has been established. Accordingly, in keeping with the decision given earlier bail is refused."

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