Belfast Telegraph

Omagh bomb payouts were ‘not enough’

Relatives of those killed in the Omagh bomb should be given increased damages because of the scale of the outrage, the Court of Appeal has heard.

Lawyers for the families who successfully sued four dissident republicans over the Real IRA attack which claimed 29 lives argued that the total £1.6m award was not sufficient.

Senior judges were told that compensation should be set at a more punitive level.

Lord Brennan QC, appearing for the victims' relatives, claimed that the case was breaking completely new ground.

The call for a higher level of payout followed on from appeals by each of the men found liable for the August 1998 atrocity.

Jailed Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt, Co Louth farmer Liam Campbell, Dundalk-based builder and publican Colm Murphy, and Seamus Daly, from Culaville, Co Monaghan, are challenging rulings made against them in a landmark legal case.

In June 2009 Mr Justice Morgan, now the Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, also held the Real IRA's Army Council responsible for directing the bombing.

Compensation was awarded to each of the 12 relatives who brought the lawsuit.

But their legal team want both a higher level of aggravated damages to be applied.

They are also seeking the tougher form of exemplary damages to be used against the defendants, even though this could involve possible changes to the laws.

Setting out their case, Lord Brennan said: “It is difficult to imagine any worse case for the extent of injury to feelings than this one.”

The total compensation included a basic £30,000 to each of the plaintiffs who took the action.

“It's just not enough to reflect this kind of case,” Lord Brennan told the court.

“If it is justifiable to apply the same figure in each case, then £30,000 was not enough because that figure does not properly reflect the depth of injury to feelings of people so damaged by the circumstances of this tort.”

Stressing that no criticism was being levelled at Mr Justice Morgan's findings, Lord Brennan added: “The judge has found the damages. It's a question of quantifying it.”

The appeal continues.

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