Belfast Telegraph

Funding a fitting tribute, says sister of Omagh bomb victim

By Victoria Leonard

The sister of a man killed in the Omagh bomb said funding from the Irish government will help provide a "fitting tribute" to all Troubles victims through events marking the 20th anniversary of the atrocity.

Dublin yesterday announced that 53 organisations in Ireland and the UK, including over 40 across Northern Ireland, would receive a total of £793,000 from its Reconciliation Fund.

Omagh Support and Self-Help Group, which is run by and for those bereaved by the tragedy and offers services such as welfare and complementary therapies, is among those to benefit.

A cash injection of £14,300 will help it pay for remembrance works of art and music. The Irish government will fund a special series of commemoration projects ahead of the Omagh bombing anniversary this summer.

The Real IRA blast killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, in the busy Co Tyrone market town.

No-one has been has been convicted of the murders in a criminal court.

Cat Wilkinson, whose brother Aiden Gallagher (21) died in the August 1998 explosion, said she was grateful for the funding.

"It will help the families who will be thinking and reflecting back over the last 20 years," she said. "It gives them something to focus positively on and really connect with the rest of the community."

The biggest local beneficiary of the newly-released funding is the NI Council for Integrated Education (NICIE), which will receive £70,500. Development officer Paula McIlwaine said the money would help to train at least 300 school teachers under the organisation's initiative Inspiring Anti-Bias Practice In Northern Ireland Schools.

"This grant is a ringing endorsement for integrated education," she said.

Yesterday, the Omagh Support and Self-Help Group said the annual routine of public memorials to the tragedy should end after this year.

"The 20th anniversary is a milestone for those closely affected as well as the wider community who were moved by this horrific event," it said.

"There is a sense that this point in time offers an opportunity to start to dissolve and disperse the routine of the memorial."

Belfast Telegraph

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