Belfast Telegraph

Governments have let us down, say Omagh families as they admit defeat

BY CHRIS KILPATRICK

Families of 29 people murdered in Northern Ireland's worst terrorist atrocity have finally admitted defeat in their fight to have their killers brought to justice.

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the Omagh bomb which ripped through the centre of the Co Tyrone town when it was packed with shoppers on a Saturday afternoon.

The 1998 Real IRA atrocity killed 29 men, women and children, as well as unborn twins, in what was the most devastating act of terrorism of the Troubles.

The families of the victims have said they will instigate court action "within days" in an attempt to force the setting up of a cross-border public inquiry into the failed investigation of the bombing.

Nobody has been convicted for the attack. However, a civil action in 2009 resulted in four men being found liable for the atrocity.

Michael Gallagher, who chairs a support group for the bereaved families of Omagh victims, told the Belfast Telegraph he was resigned to the fact nobody will face criminal convictions for the atrocity.

And Mr Gallagher, whose 21-year-old son Aiden was among those killed, said the blame for that lay with both the British and Irish authorities.

"It's been very difficult for the families over the past 15 years but we've come to the realisation that nobody is going to be convicted for the Omagh bomb," he said.

"The sad reality is that it is not because there isn't any evidence, it's because people in high places have decided that that's not going to be the case.

"We feel there is more evidence around the Omagh bomb than there is around any crime that has been committed in this country in 40 years, that's why we find it so difficult to deal with.

"We feel we gave the RUC, PSNI and Garda a good innings on this, they've had 15 years. We've also given the politicians their chance but unfortunately they didn't seem capable of moving this forward."

Earlier this month the families released excerpts of a report that raised concerns about the police and security services' failure to share intelligence which relatives believe could have prevented the attack.

Findings of that report were sent to both the British and Irish governments last year.

Mr Gallagher yesterday repeated victims' calls for a cross-border public inquiry into the authorities' handling of the investigation into the bomb which left 220 injured.

He said court action, in the form of a judicial review, could begin within days.

"We are now taking court action," said Mr Gallagher.

"We sent a report to both governments over a year ago and they are still thinking about it, they said. We feel we have no option but to take our case to the courts and let them decide whether we have merit in our call for a public inquiry or not.

"We've been failed by both governments and the only winners are the terrorists."

The dossier provided to both governments included an email which showed intelligence services knew Omagh was a target for a terrorist attack just weeks before the bomb.

Belfast Telegraph

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