Belfast Telegraph

Republicans in Omagh payout appeal

Appeals by four dissident republicans who were successfully sued by families bereaved in the Omagh bombing are to begin on Monday.

Michael McKevitt, Seamus Daly, Liam Campbell and Colm Murphy were found liable for the 1998 bombing but are to challenge the judgment.

Relatives who lost loved ones in the attack are also appealing against the £1.6 million in compensation recommended at the conclusion of their historic civil action in June 2009.

The Real IRA's bombing in the small Co Tyrone market town on August 15 killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins. More than 200 were injured in the car bomb blast. No-one has ever been successfully convicted of the Omagh bombing, with the only man jailed in connection with the attack, 57-year-old Co Louth builder Colm Murphy, cleared after a retrial in Dublin.

In December 2007, Sean Hoey, 38, from Jonesborough, South Armagh, was cleared at Belfast Crown Court of murdering the 29 people. He was acquitted of 58 charges, including some not directly linked to the bombing.

The latest legal challenge over the case is set to begin at the Court of Appeal in Belfast's Royal Courts of Justice and could last up to two weeks.

The families' ground-breaking multi-million pound civil action was billed by them as a bid to bring as much information on the case into the public domain as possible. It was the first time a civil action had been brought in a case of its kind.

The legal bid cost an estimated £2 million. The families were supported in their efforts to raise funds for the court case by former US president Bill Clinton, former Northern Ireland secretaries Peter Mandelson and Sir Patrick Mayhew as well as musician Bob Geldof and boxing champion Barry McGuigan.

The relatives launched the landmark civil action in frustration at the failure of the authorities to secure a successful criminal conviction over the attack and they sued the men who they accused for up to £14 million.

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aiden, 21, was among the dead, said: "We are appealing the amount that was awarded. We were awarded compensation but believed the court should have awarded exemplary damages."

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