Belfast Telegraph

'Charles’ Omagh visit shows victims not forgotten' says man who lost son in bombing

Michael Gallagher lost his son Aiden, 21, to the blast just months after the Good Friday peace agreement.

The Prince of Wales has visited the Memorial Garden in Omagh Town Centre where a floral tribute was laid. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
The Prince of Wales has visited the Memorial Garden in Omagh Town Centre where a floral tribute was laid. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 13th June 2018 - The Prince of Wales has visited the Memorial Garden in Omagh Town Centre where a floral tribute was laid.ÊÊ The wreath of white roses and herbs of remembrance (rosemary,Êlavender and thyme) was from the gardens of Hillsborough Castle. His two-day visit to Northern Ireland began in Belfast earlier on Tuesday. The Prince of Wales is pictured meeting the public in the centre of Omagh town centre. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 13th June 2018 - The Prince of Wales has visited the Memorial Garden in Omagh Town Centre where a floral tribute was laid.ÊÊ The wreath of white roses and herbs of remembrance (rosemary,Êlavender and thyme) was from the gardens of Hillsborough Castle. His two-day visit to Northern Ireland began in Belfast earlier on Tuesday. The Prince of Wales is pictured meeting fire officers in the centre of Omagh town centre. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 13th June 2018 - The Prince of Wales has visited the Memorial Garden in Omagh Town Centre where a floral tribute was laid.ÊÊ The wreath of white roses and herbs of remembrance (rosemary,Êlavender and thyme) was from the gardens of Hillsborough Castle. His two-day visit to Northern Ireland began in Belfast earlier on Tuesday. The Prince of Wales is pictured meeting fire officers in the centre of Omagh town centre. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 13th June 2018 - The Prince of Wales has visited the Memorial Garden in Omagh Town Centre where a floral tribute was laid.ÊÊ The wreath of white roses and herbs of remembrance (rosemary,Êlavender and thyme) was from the gardens of Hillsborough Castle. His two-day visit to Northern Ireland began in Belfast earlier on Tuesday. The Prince of Wales is pictured meeting the public in the centre of Omagh town centre. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
The Prince of Wales has visited the Memorial Garden in Omagh Town Centre where a floral tribute was laid. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
The Prince of Wales has visited the Memorial Garden in Omagh Town Centre where a floral tribute was laid. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 13th June 2018 - The Prince of Wales has visited the Memorial Garden in Omagh Town Centre where a floral tribute was laid.ÊÊ The wreath of white roses and herbs of remembrance (rosemary,Êlavender and thyme) was from the gardens of Hillsborough Castle. His two-day visit to Northern Ireland began in Belfast earlier on Tuesday. The Prince of Wales in the Memorial Garden. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 13th June 2018 - The Prince of Wales has visited the Memorial Garden in Omagh Town Centre where a floral tribute was laid.ÊÊ The wreath of white roses and herbs of remembrance (rosemary,Êlavender and thyme) was from the gardens of Hillsborough Castle. His two-day visit to Northern Ireland began in Belfast earlier on Tuesday. The Prince of Wales is pictured with Caroline Martin. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 13th June 2018 - The Prince of Wales has visited the Memorial Garden in Omagh Town Centre where a floral tribute was laid.ÊÊ The wreath of white roses and herbs of remembrance (rosemary,Êlavender and thyme) was from the gardens of Hillsborough Castle. His two-day visit to Northern Ireland began in Belfast earlier on Tuesday. The Prince of Wales is pictured meeting Stanley McCombe who lost his wife Ann in the Omagh bombing. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 13th June 2018 - The Prince of Wales has visited the Memorial Garden in Omagh Town Centre where a floral tribute was laid.ÊÊ The wreath of white roses and herbs of remembrance (rosemary,Êlavender and thyme) was from the gardens of Hillsborough Castle. His two-day visit to Northern Ireland began in Belfast earlier on Tuesday. The Prince of Wales in the Memorial Garden. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 13th June 2018 - The Prince of Wales has visited the Memorial Garden in Omagh Town Centre where a floral tribute was laid.ÊÊ The wreath of white roses and herbs of remembrance (rosemary,Êlavender and thyme) was from the gardens of Hillsborough Castle. His two-day visit to Northern Ireland began in Belfast earlier on Tuesday. The Prince of Wales is pictured meeting Stanley McCombe who lost his wife Ann in the Omagh bombing. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
The Prince of Wales has visited the Omagh Hospital and Community Care Complex in County Tyrone. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
The Prince of Wales has visited the Omagh Hospital and Community Care Complex in County Tyrone. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
The Prince of Wales is presented with flowers by local school children as he visits Omagh Hospital as part of his tour of Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 13, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Charles. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales greets the nurses in the palliative care unit as he visits Omagh Hospital as part of his tour of Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 13, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Charles. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales meets Mary Shields in the palliative care unit as he visits Omagh Hospital as part of his tour of Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 13, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Charles. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales meets palliative care patient John Black as he visits Omagh Hospital as part of his tour of Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 13, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Charles. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales meets nurse Leonie McCaffrey and dialysis patient Eaimie Gormley as he visits Omagh Hospital as part of his tour of Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 13, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Charles. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales meets Mary Shields in the palliative care unit as he visits Omagh Hospital as part of his tour of Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 13, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Charles. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales has visited the Omagh Hospital and Community Care Complex in County Tyrone. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
The Prince of Wales has visited the Omagh Hospital and Community Care Complex in County Tyrone. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
The Prince of Wales has visited the Omagh Hospital and Community Care Complex in County Tyrone. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
The Prince of Wales has visited the Omagh Hospital and Community Care Complex in County Tyrone. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
OMAGH, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 13: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall arrive to mark the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing at Memorial Garden and Strule Arts Centre on June 13, 2018 in Omagh, Northern Ireland. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are paying a four day visit to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at the Omagh Bomb memorial as part of their tour of Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 13, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Charles. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
OMAGH, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 13: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall are presented with a bunny rabbit by Matilda Callaghan on the exact spot of the Omagh bombing at Memorial Garden and Strule Arts Centre on June 13, 2018 in Omagh, Northern Ireland. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are paying a four day visit to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
The Prince of Wales looks at a power driver as he puts screws into an ornamental wheelbarrow during a visit to the Owenkillew Community Centre in Gortin, as part of his tour of Northern Ireland with the Duchess of Cornwall. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 13, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Charles. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales uses a power driver to put screws into an ornamental wheelbarrow during a visit to the Owenkillew Community Centre in Gortin, as part of his tour of Northern Ireland with the Duchess of Cornwall. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 13, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Charles. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

The Prince of Wales’ visit to the scene of one of the biggest mass killings in the Northern Ireland conflict shows victims have not been forgotten, a campaigner said.

Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall reflected in silence at a memorial garden dedicated to 29 people and two unborn babies killed by the Real IRA Omagh car bomb blast in August 1998.

They laid a floral wreath of thyme, lavender and rosemary, picked from the garden of the royal residence in Northern Ireland, Hillsborough Castle, and paused for a moment’s reflection.

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The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall lay a wreath at the Omagh Bomb memorial garden (Niall Carson/PA)

Michael Gallagher lost his son Aiden, 21, to the blast just months after the Good Friday peace agreement.

He said: “This is recognition that Omagh has not been forgotten and we are in a very critical time coming up to the 20th anniversary.

“It is nice to know that other people are still thinking about us.”

Charles visited the Co Tyrone town, including its hospital, shortly after the blast.

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Charles meets Mary Shields in the palliative care unit as he visits Omagh Hospital (Niall Carson/PA)

On Wednesday he officially opened a new hospital in the town.

The old one was the epicentre of the relief effort for those who suffered the most grievous of injuries.

Donna Marie McGillion suffered burns to a large proportion of her body.

The Prince of Wales shakes hands with Sinn Fein MLA Caral Ni Chuilin as her colleague Gerry Kelly (left) looks on at Carlisle Memorial Church in Belfast, where Charles is meeting the organisations involved in the regeneration of the building as a permanent home for the Ulster Orchestra. (Brian Lawless/PA Wire)
The Prince of Wales shakes hands with Sinn Fein MLA Caral Ni Chuilin as her colleague Gerry Kelly (left) looks on at Carlisle Memorial Church in Belfast, where Charles is meeting the organisations involved in the regeneration of the building as a permanent home for the Ulster Orchestra. (Brian Lawless/PA Wire)
The Prince of Wales shakes hands with Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly at Carlisle Memorial Church in Belfast where he is meeting the organisations involved in the regeneration of the building as a permanent home for the Ulster Orchestra. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 12, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Charles. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales arrives at Carlisle Memorial Church in Belfast where he is meeting the organisations involved in the regeneration of the building as a permanent home for the Ulster Orchestra (Brian Lawless/PA Wire)
The Prince of Wales and Fionnuala Jay-O'Boyle, founder of the Belfast Buildings Trust, arrive at Carlisle Memorial Church in Belfast where he is meeting the organisations involved in the regeneration of the building as a permanent home for the Ulster Orchestra. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 12, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Charles. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales sits alongside Fionnuala Jay-O'Boyle, founder of the Belfast Buildings Trust, at Carlisle Memorial Church in Belfast where he is meeting the organisations involved in the regeneration of the building as a permanent home for the Ulster Orchestra. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 12, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Charles. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales greets people at Carlisle Memorial Church in Belfast where he is meeting the organisations involved in the regeneration of the building as a permanent home for the Ulster Orchestra. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 12, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Charles. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales arrives at Carlisle Memorial Church in Belfast where he is meeting the organisations involved in the regeneration of the building as a permanent home for the Ulster Orchestra. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 12, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Charles. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales holds a glass of beer as he meets representatives of the ABVFest beer festival at Carlisle Memorial Church in Belfast where he is meeting the organisations involved in the regeneration of the building, which hosts the festival. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 12, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Charles. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales meets representatives of the ABVFest beer festival at Carlisle Memorial Church in Belfast where he is meeting the organisations involved in the regeneration of the building, which hosts the festival. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 12, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Charles. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales meets members of the Ulster Orchestra at Carlisle Memorial Church in Belfast where he is meeting the organisations involved in the regeneration of the building as a permanent home for the orchestra. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 12, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Charles. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales samples a special brew created for the ABVFest beer festival at Carlisle Memorial Church in Belfast where he is meeting the organisations involved in the regeneration of the building, which hosts the festival. Picture date: Tuesday June 12, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Charles. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales at Carlisle Memorial Church in Belfast where he is meeting the organisations involved in the regeneration of the building as a permanent home for the Ulster Orchestra. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 12, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Charles. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales watches a Judo demonstration during a visit to Ulster University in Coleraine, Co Londonderry, to help celebrate its 50th anniversary. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 12, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Charles. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
COLERAINE, COUNTY LONDONERRY - JUNE 12: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales is treated to a judo display during a visit to Ulster University's Colraine Campus on June 12, 2018 in County Londonderry, United Kingdom. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are paying a four day visit to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
The Prince of Wales meets staff and students during his visit to Ulster University in Coleraine, Co Londonderry, to help celebrate its 50th anniversary. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 12, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Charles. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales meets staff and students during his visit to Ulster University in Coleraine, Co Londonderry, to help celebrate its 50th anniversary. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 12, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Charles. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales meets staff and students during his visit to Ulster University in Coleraine, Co Londonderry, to help celebrate its 50th anniversary. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 12, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Charles. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
COLERAINE, COUNTY LONDONERRY - JUNE 12: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales speaks with children engaged in sporting activities during a visit to Ulster University's Colraine Campus on June 12, 2018 in County Londonderry, United Kingdom. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are paying a four day visit to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
COLERAINE, COUNTY LONDONERRY - JUNE 12: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales meets wheelchair basketball players during a visit to Ulster University's Colraine Campus on June 12, 2018 in County Londonderry, United Kingdom. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are paying a four day visit to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
The Prince of Wales visits Ulster University in Coleraine, Co Londonderry, to help celebrate its 50th anniversary. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 12, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Charles. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

She was among around 50 survivors and victims who met the prince at an arts centre in the town on Wednesday.

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Large crowds greet the Prince of Wales at Omagh Hospital (Niall Carson/PA)

She said: “We go through pain every day and it is lovely to know that other people still remember that.”

Mr Gallagher said some families still could not come into the town because of the trauma.

“The issue here is those responsible were never brought before the courts in either jurisdiction and that still for many families causes pain.”

Paramedic John Taylor from Dungannon was one of the first to respond.

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Charles met DUP leader Arlene Foster during his visit to Omagh Hospital (Niall Carson/PA)

He said: “You walk up the street and you can still see the scene.

“The atmosphere that day, there was an eerie silence, you could hear sirens and firemen shouting different instructions and people but there was an eerie silence in the whole place.

“Every time I drive through it – it brings me back.”

Esther Gibson, 36, from Co Tyrone, was among the dead.

Her sister Caroline Martin clutched flowers with her photo on them.

She said: “I just felt I wanted to be here to remember Esther.”

There were emotional scenes as the prince and duchess met families of the dead, paramedics, firefighters and police officers who had to deal with the carnage.

Charles and Camilla walked up the main street of the Co Tyrone market town past the site of the blast.

The shopping street was lined with well-wishers who cheered the royal couple and waved flags.

Charles also met hospital nurses who treated dozens of victims. All bar two were stabilised.

He toured Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex, which opened a year ago.

Joann McCullagh was a staff nurse in the intensive care ward on the day of the attack and said she worked at the “coal face”.

She said: “We worked tirelessly throughout the day and night, dealing with the very traumatically injured patients.

“We as a group of people worked very closely together to support each other in the dark days that followed.”

Charles was greeted by cheering healthcare workers as he walked around.

Sinn Fein’s West Tyrone MP Orfhlaith Begley and DUP leader Arlene Foster were among those there to welcome the prince.

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