Belfast Telegraph

Don't exclude Omagh bomb families from new Troubles pension, says victim's sister

Claire Monteith who lost her brother Alan Radford in the 1998 Omagh bombing
Claire Monteith who lost her brother Alan Radford in the 1998 Omagh bombing
The 1998 Omagh bombing
Adrian Rutherford

By Adrian Rutherford

A woman who lost her brother in the Omagh bombing has urged the Secretary of State to ensure victims of the Real IRA atrocity are included in a new Troubles pension.

Claire Monteith criticised Julian Smith over an "insensitive" and "hurtful" section in a consultation, which suggests restricting the scope from 1966 to the signing of the Belfast Agreement in April 1998. This places Omagh just outside the timeframe.

Twenty-nine people, including a woman pregnant with twins, died when a Real IRA car bomb exploded on Market Street in Omagh on August 15, 1998.

Another 220 were hurt, some of them with horrific and life-changing injuries.

No-one has ever been convicted in a criminal court of the Omagh massacre.

Claire, who lost her brother Alan Radford (16) in the atrocity, said she fears Omagh victims will face another injustice.

"We have been denied our loved ones and any normality of life in the aftermath," she said.

"We have been denied justice. We have been denied closure.

"Now we are facing denial of the very fact we are victims of an atrocity which claimed more lives in a single incident during the terrorist campaign."

The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) said there is no pre-determined timescale for the scheme.

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

Last week the NIO published a consultation with proposed payment levels for victims injured "through no fault of their own".

The UK Government intends to bring forward legislation by January 31, 2020, with the scheme opening for applications at the end of May.

The public consultation, published last Tuesday, runs until November 26. It states: "A commonly used time period for the Troubles is to consider that they began in 1966 and ended with the signing of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement on April 10, 1998.

"It may be that this provides the basis for setting the time limits for the scheme. But as with many aspects of this scheme, the time period that it would cover is clearly an issue that will need to be considered very carefully.

"Any time period selected will create parameters by which some victims will be excluded."

It states the time period has been intentionally included as a specific question in this consultation to canvass people's views. However, Claire said it was wrong to put a timeframe on terrorism. She added: "This phrase is not only unjust, it is grossly insensitive, and should never have been included in the first place.

Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Pacemaker Press 15/08/2018 Prayers are held at at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast on the 20th anniversary of Omagh bombing. Prayers are to held at 3.10pm to remember the victims of the bomb in Omagh 20 years ago today. 29 candles where lit for the victims. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. A young girl is seen through the Omagh bomb memorial as the ceremony takes place on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. A young girl is seen through the Omagh bomb memorial as the ceremony takes place on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. A young girl is seen through the Omagh bomb memorial as the ceremony takes place on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People are seen through the Omagh bomb memorial as the ceremony takes place on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People are seen through the Omagh bomb memorial as the ceremony takes place on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. A woman lays flowers at Omagh bomb memorial as the ceremony takes place on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. A bell is rang once during the ceremony for each person who died and then one at the end for everyone. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People are seen through the Omagh bomb memorial as the ceremony takes place on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. A bell is rang once during the ceremony for each person who died and then one at the end for everyone. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. A woman lays flowers at Omagh bomb memorial as the ceremony takes place on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People are seen through the Omagh bomb memorial as the ceremony takes place on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. One of the victims Jolene Marlow's family(right) pictured during the ceremony on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. One of the victims Jolene Marlow's family pictured during the ceremony on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Members of the fire service throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Members of the fire service throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People gather white petals to throw into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Floral tributes left at the Omagh Bomb Memorial, located on Market Street, ahead of 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 gathering on Market Street, Omagh, ahead of 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 gathering on Market Street, Omagh, ahead of 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 gathering on Market Street, Omagh, ahead of 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 gathering on Market Street, Omagh, ahead of 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 gathering on Market Street, Omagh, ahead of 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 gathering 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 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
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
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
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. Pic: 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
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

"Why is any victim excluded? Terrorism is terrorism. Injury - emotional or physical - is injury.

"Victims, unfortunately, are best placed to understand that. Just because some elements were on ceasefire, does that act as an excuse for those who weren't?

"Sickening though it is, terrorism and injury don't discriminate when creating victims, so neither should the Secretary of State in addressing the tragic outworkings of such atrocities.

"There are no parameters on suffering. I do not seek to take away from those within the specified dates at all - far from it - but this is a shameful and deeply offensive suggestion."

She said Mr Smith "seriously needs to review this particular section".

She added: "Should he seek to rely on the issue of parameters not being fully decided, I ask him to consider just how gut-wrenching it has been for victims outside his suggested timeframe.

"He knew we would take part in the consultation, and I cannot over-emphasise how cruel, insensitive and wholly unjustified this suggestion is. Every single step for victims has been a fight - to be heard, to be acknowledged, to be understood.

"We are not giving up now. On behalf of all who face falling outside the defined timeframe, I am calling on the Secretary of State to address this bitter, hurtful issue as matter of urgency."

Alan, a pupil at Omagh High School, was killed outright. His mother sustained very serious head injuries, and continues to suffer years later.

Claire added: "It affects every part of daily life. The sights are vividly replayed in flashbacks. Everything is a reminder of Alan and that awful day, in which so may lives ground to a halt, never to be the same again.

"And we are just a few among so many. Yet our trauma is so callously facing exclusion from the criteria. This move has left us feeling of less importance instead of equal sufferers or, as I prefer to say, endurers."

An NIO spokesperson said: "The government is very sensitive to the fact that terrible atrocities including the Omagh bomb took place outside what is commonly considered to be the Troubles period. That is why we are consulting on this issue and want to hear and consider all views.

"We have included a specific question within the consultation on date parameters of the scheme and there is no pre-determined timescale for the scheme. Any decisions about timescale will be taken after the consultation has been completed and the responses analysed."

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