Belfast Telegraph

Omagh victims waiting for compensation after 12 years

Victims who were injured in the Omagh bombing are still waiting for compensation — more than a decade on from the Real IRA massacre, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

It has emerged that several of the claims lodged in the aftermath of the 1998 atrocity have not yet been settled by authorities, with a number of victims still waiting for cash 12 years on.

It has prompted an angry reaction from victims’ campaigners, with calls for Justice Minister David Ford to resolve the situation. Michael Gallagher, who chairs the Omagh Support and Self Help Group, said the wait was adding to victims’ suffering.

“The fact that this is dragging on and on is more trauma for those affected,” he said. “They are being re-traumatised and re-victimised by a process lasting this long.”

Yesterday marked the 12th anniversary of the atrocity on August 15, 1998.

Some 29 people, including a woman pregnant with unborn twins, were killed and dozens more seriously injured when the 500lb bomb ripped through Market Street.

Some 852 compensation claims were made following the attack, and while most have now been settled, some of the injured are still awaiting

compensation.

In 2008 the Belfast Telegraph revealed nine cases were still outstanding.

The Compensation Agency, now under the remit of the justice department, refused to confirm how many were still outstanding, but sources told this newspaper that “several” cases have yet to be resolved.

Mr Gallagher, whose son Aidan (21) was among those killed, said: “This is putting people’s lives on hold. When you reach a settlement it is a step forward in life. They will always have the trauma and the effect of the injuries, but it brings some degree of closure.

“The Compensation Agency should try and consider the mental situation of the person who has been injured and needs to be compensated.”

West Tyrone Assembly member Tom Buchanan said it was “outrageous” that some people were still waiting.

“It is a complete outrage and an absolute disgrace that so much time has lapsed and yet there are still those waiting for compensation owed to them,” he said.

“After so long, and considering what the people who were injured have gone through, some kind of priority should have been given to these cases.”

A spokesman for the Compensation Agency said: “We do not comment on individual cases.”

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