Belfast Telegraph

Brexit threatens Northern Ireland peace, says dad of Omagh bomb victim Aiden Gallagher

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan died in the 1998 Omagh bomb.
Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan died in the 1998 Omagh bomb.

The father of one of the victims of the Omagh bomb has said those who were killed during the Troubles "died for peace" and warned Brexit threatens a return to those "dark days".

Michael Gallagher's son Aiden was 21-years-old when he was killed in the Real IRA atrocity in 1998, which claimed 29 lives.

Speaking on RTE's Claire Byrne Live, Mr Gallagher warned that Brexit could threaten the peace that has been built in the 20 years since the Good Friday Agreement.

"My family is a victim of the Troubles and also a victim of the peace and I think it's important that we are here, that we are recognised," he said.

"Those people who are in that book (Lost Lives, a chronicle of Troubles' victims) have died so that we can have the peace that we have. This very serious situation called Brexit has the possibility of setting us back into those dark days."

Mr Gallagher, who is now part of the Omagh Bomb Victims' Group, said that due to Northern Ireland voting to remain in the EU referendum, while the UK as a whole voted to leave, the result has had the effect of causing division across the province.

"We do know that once you start to talk about polarising the community, you are creating a vacuum and that vacuum will be filled by people who want to make their own point through terror," he said.

"We seen a few weeks ago in Derry how close that came again to a family losing their lives."

"I believe in positivity, I believe in moving forward - but I think its also important to realise that those dangers are still there. We need to always guard this peace.

"In fact, the EU itself is an organisation that was set up after the second world war, as a peace organisation to bring people in Europe together, so I think it's not a good omen that we're starting to disintegrate, or part of Europe is starting to disintegrate."

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

In recent weeks, several high-profile political figures have warned of a potential return to violence in Northern Ireland if a hard border is installed in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair said that if the UK leaves the EU without a withdrawal agreement, it would inevitably lead to a "really hard border" and cause a huge split within the UK.

"No one could responsibly propose (a no-deal Brexit)," Mr Blair said.

People visit the Omagh Memorial garden after attending the ceremony for victims of the car bomb on Market Street on the 15th August 1998. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People visit the Omagh Memorial garden after attending the ceremony for victims of the car bomb on Market Street on the 15th August 1998. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People visit the Omagh Memorial garden after attending the ceremony for victims of the car bomb on Market Street on the 15th August 1998. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 15, 2018. The worst single atrocity of the Northern Ireland conflict killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins. See PA story ULSTER Omagh. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
White Rose petals are thrown into a pond at the Omagh Memorial garden by people who attended the ceremony for victims of the car bomb on Market Street on the 15th August 1998. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 15, 2018. The worst single atrocity of the Northern Ireland conflict killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins. See PA story ULSTER Omagh. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Kevin Skelton, whose wife Philomena died in the blast during the ceremony for victims of the Omagh car bombing on Market Street on the 15th August 1998. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 15, 2018. The worst single atrocity of the Northern Ireland conflict killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins. See PA story ULSTER Omagh. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People gathered on Market Street, Omagh, during the ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing on 15 August 1998. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 15, 2018. The worst single atrocity of the Northern Ireland conflict killed 29, including a woman pregnant with twins. See PA story ULSTER Omagh. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People gathered on Market Street, Omagh, during the ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing on 15 August 1998. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 15, 2018. The worst single atrocity of the Northern Ireland conflict killed 29, including a woman pregnant with twins. See PA story ULSTER Omagh. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People gathered on Market Street, Omagh, during the ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing on 15 August 1998. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 15, 2018. The worst single atrocity of the Northern Ireland conflict killed 29, including a woman pregnant with twins. See PA story ULSTER Omagh. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People observe a minutes silence on Market Street, Omagh, during the ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing on 15 August 1998. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 15, 2018. The worst single atrocity of the Northern Ireland conflict killed 29, including a woman pregnant with twins. See PA story ULSTER Omagh. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Richard Scott reads a poem entitled "Reality" during the ceremony for victims of the Omagh bombing at the site where a car bomb exploded on Market Street in Omagh on 15 August 1998. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 15, 2018. The worst single atrocity of the Northern Ireland conflict killed 29, including a woman pregnant with twins. See PA story ULSTER Omagh. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Fr Kevin Mullan reading a poem entitled "A call to return" during the ceremony for victims of the Omagh bombing at the site where a car bomb exploded on Market Street in Omagh on 15 August 1998. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 15, 2018. The worst single atrocity of the Northern Ireland conflict killed 29, including a woman pregnant with twins. See PA story ULSTER Omagh. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb was held in the memorial garden in Omagh. PICTURE MATT BOHILL PACEMAKER
12/8/18 PACEMAKER PRESS The 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb was held in the memorial garden in Omagh. Victims who "suffered and those who are still suffering" have been remembered at a cross-community ceremony ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - died in the 1998 attack in the County Tyrone town. The memorial included prayers in both English and Irish as well as a reading in Spanish, the native tongue of two of the victims. PICTURE MATT BOHILL PACEMAKER
12/8/18 PACEMAKER PRESS The 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb was held in the memorial garden in Omagh. Victims who "suffered and those who are still suffering" have been remembered at a cross-community ceremony ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - died in the 1998 attack in the County Tyrone town. The memorial included prayers in both English and Irish as well as a reading in Spanish, the native tongue of two of the victims. PICTURE MATT BOHILL PACEMAKER
12/8/18 PACEMAKER PRESS The 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb was held in the memorial garden in Omagh. Victims who "suffered and those who are still suffering" have been remembered at a cross-community ceremony ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - died in the 1998 attack in the County Tyrone town. The memorial included prayers in both English and Irish as well as a reading in Spanish, the native tongue of two of the victims. PICTURE MATT BOHILL PACEMAKER
12/8/18 PACEMAKER PRESS The 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb was held in the memorial garden in Omagh. Victims who "suffered and those who are still suffering" have been remembered at a cross-community ceremony ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - died in the 1998 attack in the County Tyrone town. The memorial included prayers in both English and Irish as well as a reading in Spanish, the native tongue of two of the victims. PICTURE MATT BOHILL PACEMAKER
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Shailesh Vara MP and Irish Minister Simin Harris join relatives and guests to take part in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
The 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb was held in the memorial garden in Omagh. PICTURE MATT BOHILL PACEMAKER
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Shailesh Vara MP and Irish Minister Simin Harris join relatives and guests to take part in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Shailesh Vara MP and Irish Minister Simin Harris join relatives and guests to take part in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Shailesh Vara MP and Irish Minister Simin Harris with Michael Gallagher in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Shailesh Vara MP and Irish Minister Simin Harris join relatives and guests to take part in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Shailesh Vara MP and Irish Minister Simin Harris join relatives and guests to take part in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Shailesh Vara MP and Irish Minister Simin Harris with Michael Gallagher in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Shailesh Vara MP and Irish Minister Simin Harris with Michael Gallagher in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Relatives and guests take part in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Shailesh Vara MP and Irish Minister Simin Harris join relatives and guests to take part in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Members of Omagh Community Youth Choir take part in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
12/8/18 PACEMAKER PRESS The 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb was held in the memorial garden in Omagh. Pictured campaigner Michael Gallagher. PICTURE MATT BOHILL PACEMAKER
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Michael Gallagher join relatives and guests to take part in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
12/8/18 PACEMAKER PRESS The 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb was held in the memorial garden in Omagh. Pictured survivor Donna Marie McGillion. PICTURE MATT BOHILL PACEMAKER
The 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb was held in the memorial garden in Omagh. Pictured George Hamilton..PICTURE MATT BOHILL PACEMAKER
12/8/18 PACEMAKER PRESS The 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb was held in the memorial garden in Omagh. PICTURE MATT BOHILL PACEMAKER
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Shailesh Vara MP and Irish Minister Simin Harris join relatives and guests to take part in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
12/8/18 PACEMAKER PRESS The 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb was held in the memorial garden in Omagh. Pixtured Miinster Shailesh Vara MP and Minister Simon Harris. PICTURE MATT BOHILL PACEMAKER
12/8/18 PACEMAKER PRESS The 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb was held in the memorial garden in Omagh. Michael Gallagher Omagh bomb campaigner. PICTURE MATT BOHILL PACEMAKER
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Shailesh Vara MP and Irish Minister Simin Harris join relatives and guests to take part in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Shailesh Vara MP and Irish Minister Simin Harris join relatives and guests to take part in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

"It would be economically very, very dangerous for Britain, and for the peace process in Ireland it would potentially be devastating.

"You would have a hard border, a very hard border.

"A no-deal Brexit means a really hard border between north and south in Ireland, it's contrary to the Good Friday Agreement and it will cause an enormous fissure within the United Kingdom."

Mr Blair's views were echoed by former Conservative Prime Minister Sir John Major, who said: "If we end up with a hard border in Northern Ireland it would be a betrayal of the 3,500 people who were killed and those who may well be killed if further violence were to start."

DUP MP Gregory Campbell, however, accused the two statesmen of "scare mongering" and using "extreme language".

"Two former Prime Ministers should be more responsible in their language," he said.

"This talk of violence and hard borders is careless in the extreme. They are playing on the fears of genuine people who live on the border."

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