Jude Collins 'beneath contempt' after claiming Omagh bombing victims were not murdered on 20th anniversary of Real IRA atrocity
Unionists have slammed comments made by nationalist commentator Jude Collins which suggested the 29 people who died in the Omagh bombing "were not murdered".
Mr Collins, who describes himself as a writer and broadcaster, made the comments on his blog- which was published on the 20th Anniversary of the atrocity which claimed the lives of 29 men, woman and children- including a mother pregnant with unborn twins.
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He wrote: "The victims of Omagh – my home town – are often spoken of as being murdered. There were events that occurred during the Troubles that were indeed murder – that is, the killers set out to and succeeded in killing innocent people.
"If we consider the pattern of events for some months before Omagh, the signs are that it wasn’t murder: the Real IRA didn’t set out to deliberately slaughter the good and defenceless people they did."
Omagh Ulster Unionist Councillor Chris Smyth described the comments as "beneath contempt".
Councillor Smyth said: “In 2016 Jude Collins compared the Boys Brigade to children taking part in dissident republican marches in Lurgan. That in itself should have ended his credibility.
“Today he has surpassed himself with absolutely despicable comments regarding the Omagh bomb."
He added: “This is a defence even the parents of the members of the Real IRA gang that bombed Omagh would struggle to sustain.
“The facts are as follows. They assembled a bomb. They drove it for miles passing through villages and traffic until they arrived at a market town on a Saturday afternoon. They telephoned a warning giving the wrong location. As a result, people were funnelled down Omagh High Street into the path of the bomb and 29 innocent people lost their lives along with unborn twins.
“Terrorist bombs are inherently unstable.
"The Troubles are littered with instances of IRA bombs going off prematurely."
Cllr Smyth referenced an incident in Coleraine in 1973 were six people died because the bomb warnings sent people into the path of a bomb.
In Birmingham in 1974, 21 people died because of ineffective warnings and in 1978 the IRA murdered 12 people in a firebomb attack on the La Mon hotel.
He said: “As a result, by August 1998 the gang who bombed Omagh were well aware of the potential risks and consequences of planting a bomb of that size in a built up area.
"If you build a bomb, transport it to a town and abandon it on a busy shopping street, and it detonates creating multiple innocent victims, then the only word for that is murder.
"Jude Collins’s comments in seeking to minimise the enormity of the horror visited on Omagh are beneath contempt.”
Belfast Telegraph Digital