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Omagh bomb relatives watch as Seamus Daly appears in court accused of killing 29 in Troubles' darkest day

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 26/02/2016

Seamus Daly arrives at court yesterday
Seamus Daly arrives at court yesterday
Victims’ relatives Stanley McCombe (left) and Michael Gallagher attend the hearing
Omagh bomb aftermath

Relatives of the Omagh bomb victims watched as a bricklayer accused of causing the atrocity appeared in court in the town yesterday.

Seamus Daly is charged with murdering 29 people in the 1998 Real IRA attack.

He was brought to court in a prison van and led inside, handcuffed to a security officer.

It came ahead of a hearing at Omagh Magistrates Court to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed to trial.

It marked the first time Daly (45), of Jonesborough, south Armagh, appeared in court in Omagh.

His first court appearance following his arrest in April 2014 took place in Dungannon.

Subsequent hearings have been conducted by video-link from the high-security Maghaberry Prison.

Relatives of the dead, including Michael Gallagher and Stanley McCombe, were among a group sitting just feet away.

Mr Gallagher lost his 21-year-old son Aidan and Mr McCombe's wife Ann died in the bombing on August 15, 1998.

Daly glanced towards them as he entered the glass-panelled dock of court number one yesterday morning. He was dressed in jeans, a grey quarter-zipped fleece and matching cardigan.

Breda Devine, 20 months
Breda Devine, 20 months
Esther Gibson
Spaniard Gonzalo Cavedo poses with a child on his shoulders beside the car carrying the bomb that seconds later killed 29 people, including the photographer
Elizabeth Rush
Olive Hawkes, aged 60
Julie Hughes, aged 21
Ann McCombe, aged 45
Mary Grimes, aged 65
Aiden Gallagher, aged 21
The bomb attack was the worst ever atrocity of Northern Ireland's decades of violence.
Brian McCrory, left, aged 54
Samantha McFarland, aged 17
Philomena Skelton, aged 39
Jolene Marlow, aged 17
The scene of the Omagh Bomb
Brenda Logue, aged 17
Alan Radford, aged 16
Bryan White, aged 27
Oran Doherty
Lorraine Wilson
Fred White
Veda Short
Geraldine Breslin
Deborah-Ann Cartwright
The scene of devastation in Omagh Town centre where upto 25 people have been killed in this afternoons blast. PACEMAKER BELFAST 15/08/98
Gareth Conway, Omagh bomb victim
James Baker, Omagh bomb victim
Several men have faced charges in connection with the attack, but nobody has ever been convicted of the murders
Cathy and Michael Gallagher, the sister and father of Omagh bomb victim, Aiden Gallagher.
PACEMAKER BFST 03-08-99: Man United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has a chat with Claire Gallagher, who lost her sight in the Omagh bomb, before yesterday's friendly against Omagh Town in aid of the Omagh Bomb Fund.
The happy couple — Ryan and Claire Bowse on their wedding day last year, nine years after Claire lost her sight due to injuries suffered in the Omagh bombing
The damage caused by the bomb explosion in Market Street, Omagh, 1998
Donna Marie McGillion, who was seriously injured in the Omagh bombing
The secret email which shows intelligence bosses knew that Omagh was a prime target for a terrorist attack weeks before the car bomb that devastated the town
Claire Radford, whose brother Alan was killed in the Omagh bomb, examines a new stained-glass window in the town's library with her daughter Mia. The window was created in memory of the victims of the blast which killed 29 people and unborn twins.
Michael Gallagher whose son Aiden, 21, was killed in the Omagh bomb attack Pic Paul Faith
Michael Gallagher (right), whose son Aiden, 21, was killed in the Omagh bomb attack with Stanley McCombe who lost his wife Ann Pic Paul Faith

Later he stood motionless as the names of his alleged victims were read out as each individual charge was put to him.

Asked if he objected to the holding of the hearing, Daly replied "no".

The preliminary inquiry ran throughout yesterday and is due to continue today.

District Judge Peter King will then decide if the case meets the required standard to warrant trial.

A number of witnesses will give evidence over the two days.

However, legal restrictions prevent media outlets reporting details.

Daly is charged with 29 counts of murder.

He also faces charges of causing the explosion and possessing the bomb, and two charges relating to another dissident republican bomb plot in Lisburn in April 1998.

Daly, originally from the Republic, was arrested in April 2014.

At the time, he gave police a statement denying any involvement in the Omagh bombing or Lisburn plot.

The Omagh bomb was the single biggest atrocity of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

The death toll included nine children and three generations of one family. One of the victims was pregnant with twins.

No one has been convicted in a criminal court of carrying out the attack.

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