Six questions shameless Omagh bomber Seamus Daly must answer
After the criminal trial of Omagh bomber Seamus Daly collapsed earlier this month, he backed calls that have been made for a public inquiry into the Real IRA atrocity, which claimed the lives of 29 people and unborn twins. Here, Sean O'Driscoll poses some of the questions Daly has still to answer
Dear Seamus, I am so glad you have called for an inquiry into the Omagh bombing. As you said yourself, the killing of 29 civilians in Omagh "should never have happened". I find that level of thoughtfulness very moving.
The part of your recent interview that puzzles me is when you said: "I don't know anything about the Omagh bombing, but I believe the Brits could have prevented it."
It's extraordinary that you believe the Brits could have prevented a bombing you know nothing about. Where does this level of knowledge come from?
As a convicted Real IRA member - and someone who still owes the Omagh victims £1.6m for your part in the bombing - I'm sure you'll only be too willing to come before the public inquiry and explain it all.
With that in mind, could I focus on six questions that I - and the entire country - would like answered before you can fully clear your name?
1. Where were you at 2pm on August 15, 1998?
According to your foreman, Terence Morgan, you were supposed to be laying bricks at the science building at Dublin City University on the day of the bombing, part of a work crew employed by Colm Murphy (also found liable of the bombing). According to Morgan, neither you nor fellow dissident Seamus McKenna was at work that day. So, where were you?
I know you told Garda that you were near your home in Cullaville that day (that's not nearly as verifiable as an institution with many CCTV cameras like DCU). So why weren't you in work that day? Were you feeling the sniffles? Should I send you a belated get-well-soon card?
You have never comforted the Omagh families with an answer - even when the BBC came around to your door seeking an answer (according to the reporter and cameraman present, you were hiding inside your house). Perhaps the inquiry may afford you the public platform to explain.
2. Were you a member of the Real IRA on the day of the Omagh bombing?
You admitted at Dublin’s Special Criminal Court that, on November 20, 2000, you were a member of the Real IRA. The membership date is just two years after the Omagh bombing.
Originally, you were charged with being a member of the Real IRA between April 29, 1998 and November 20, 2000, but, in exchange for a guilty plea, the charge sheet was amended to include the second, post-Omagh date only.
So, were you a member of the Real IRA on the day of the Omagh bombing? Or did you join afterwards, because you felt the Real IRA’s tactics were getting somewhere?
Just to break it down for you mathematically: being a Real IRA member living along the Monaghan/Armagh border places you in the 0.00001% of the entire island’s population (50 people, or one in 100,000) who could have been responsible for the bombing. As someone who describes the bombing as “a tragedy”, it’s important that you explain the timing of your Real IRA membership.
3. Can you explain your phone conversations with an INLA dissident on the night of August 13, 1998?
Two nights before the Omagh atrocity, the bomb car (a Vauxhall Cavalier) was stolen in Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan. The car thief then drove it to a car park to be picked up by an INLA member (the car thief admitted all this to Garda and charges against him were later dropped).
I have seen the phone records. The INLA member - an ardent dissident, as you know - called you as soon as he heard the car had been stolen. What was this conversation about? Why did you take the call so late at night? Were the sniffles keeping you awake?
Why were there several calls back and forth between your mobile and the INLA member's mobile phone that night? Was the INLA providing a late-night pharmacy service for people coming down with the flu?
4. Can you explain what sugar bags and a Vauxhall Cavalier number plate were doing on your property?
Seamus, do you have a sweet tooth? When Garda raided your home a month after Omagh officers found bags of sugar on land you were renting. Why did a bricklayer need so much sugar? And why was it hidden away from the house (it is known that the Omagh bomb was made using sugar mixed with diesel and fertiliser)?
Also, gloves containing nitrates were also found in the same spot. What were you doing with the gloves? You're not a serial killer, are you Seamus?
Most disturbing of all, Garda found a number plate with the same colour and distinctive markings as the false Northern Ireland number plate fitted to the Omagh bomb car. You weren't manufacturing number plates, were you Seamus? If you were, for what purpose?
5. How did you know Terence Morgan's phone had been in Omagh on the day of the bombing?
Hours after the Omagh massacre, Ireland and Britain were in a state of shock as the full horror of the atrocity unfolded. In Colm Murphy's Dundalk pub, The Emerald, you, Kevin 'Kiddo' Murray (now deceased) and Seamus McKenna (now deceased) - all key suspects in the bombing - were drinking together.
Murray was the only one who looked concerned, pacing up and down the bar, while you and McKenna were drinking and laughing. Terence Morgan, the foreman on the DCU site, came back up from Dublin and saw you in the pub.
As you know, Morgan had lent his phone to Colm Murphy the day before after Murphy complained that his own phone was (conveniently) "on the blink".
Now, Morgan was beginning to wonder if there was a darker motive to Murphy's request for his phone - especially seeing you all gathered together.
He says that you came up to him and jokingly said: "It was you who drove the yoke to Omagh." Morgan said he looked at you for a moment in silence, then walked away in disgust.
This conversation took place many months before analysis of phone mast records revealed that Morgan's phone had, indeed, been up to Omagh and back down to Monaghan at the precise time the bomb was planted.
How do you account for your extraordinary clairvoyance in knowing that Morgan's phone had been to Omagh months before the police knew it? Do you have telepathic powers that the proposed Omagh inquiry should know about?
6. How do you account for your own phone's movement to Lisburn and Banbridge on the day of those earlier Real IRA bombings?
You admitted in court to being a Real IRA member in November 2000, but, as you know, you were originally charged with being a Real IRA member from April 29, 1998 onwards.
This is because your mobile moved from Monaghan up to Lisburn and back again on that day, in what the PSNI believes was a scouting mission.
The next day your phone again travelled to Lisburn and returned to Monaghan, at the precise time that a bomb was planted in Lisburn town centre.
The bomb - of a strikingly similar type to that in Omagh - was defused before it could explode. What were you doing in Lisburn two days in a row, Seamus?
Saw a pair of jeans you liked and decided to sleep on it before going all the way back up again to buy them?
You are a man of unfortunate coincidence - you seem to attract bomb alerts like a magnet.
On August 1, 1998, your phone was on the move again, this time to Banbridge and back down to Monaghan.
Its movement matched the exact time a car bomb was planted in Banbridge.
Again, it was a bomb with a very similar design to that later used in Omagh.
The Banbridge bomb exploded, injuring 33 people and devastating the town centre.
When police arrested you and calmly told you they were investigating the Banbridge bombing, you anxiously blurted out: "I know what you are at. It's all lies."
To what were you referring? It's almost as if you knew Banbridge was only the opening gambit; that gardai's questions would soon lead on to much darker territory.
If the Omagh inquiry you seek comes to fruition, it will be greatly enhanced by your honest contribution.
In the meantime, you owe the Omagh families £1.6m. Will that be by cash or cheque?
Sean O'Driscoll is a human rights lawyer and journalist