Belfast Telegraph

Omagh suspect held as he visited hospital with his pregnant wife

BY CHRIS KILPATRICK

A Republican suspected of the Omagh bombing was arrested by police in the car park of a hospital he was attending with his heavily pregnant wife.

Seamus Daly appeared before Dungannon Magistrates Court on the same day the child was due to be born.

He is charged with killing 29 people in the 1998 Real IRA atrocity, the worst single incident of the Troubles. The 43-year-old, originally from Culloville in Co Monaghan but now living in Newry, also faces two charges related to the Omagh explosion and two charges linked to an attempted explosion in Lisburn in April 1998. Daly was previously found liable for the August 1998 attack in the Co Tyrone town in a landmark civil case. He has always denied any involvement in the bombing.

A detective told the court the police evidence against Daly was based on forensic findings, telephone records and witness statements. He said Daly had declined to comment during police interviews but did produce a pre-written statement to officers denying all of the allegations against him.

A defence lawyer claimed there were "significant weaknesses" in the prosecution case.

"There is nothing new and nothing fresh that hasn't been available for a long number of years," he said.

Applying for bail for his client, the lawyer said Daly was settled in the Newry area where he has been living with his wife in recent years.

He said the couple were expecting their second child, which was due yesterday. Responding to police objections to bail the lawyer said Daly wanted to contest the allegations against him.

"Why would he flee in circumstances such as this?" he asked.

Police also raised concerns over potential interference with witnesses in the case.

Deputy District Judge Paul Conway refused the defence application for bail on the grounds Daly might flee Northern Ireland.

Dressed in jeans and a dark hooded top, Daly did not speak during the half hour hearing. He was remanded into custody to appear by videolink next month.

The Omagh atrocity took place just months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

One of the those killed in the bomb was pregnant with twins at the time. Nobody has ever been convicted in a criminal court in relation to the attack.

Five years ago Daly was one of four men found responsible for the bombing at Belfast High Court after being sued by some of the victims' families. The men were ordered to pay £1.6 million to the bereaved relatives – money they are still pursuing.

Daly, who denied involvement, faced a civil retrial after successfully appealing against the original finding, but the second trial delivered the same outcome, with judge Mr Justice John Gillen ruling him responsible.

BACKGROUND

The prosecution case against a high profile republican charged with murdering 29 people in the Omagh bombing is based on phone, forensic and witness evidence, a court has heard.

A detective said the decision to charge Seamus Daly (43) who has previously been successfully sued over the Real IRA outrage, had been taken in consultation with the "highest level" of Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service after reviewing a range of evidence allegedly linking the Co Monaghan bricklayer and publican with the August 1998 attack.

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