Belfast Telegraph

Legal challenge to call for public inquiry into Omagh bombing

A legal challenge to the Government's refusal to hold a public inquiry into the Omagh bomb atrocity will be heard next month, a High Court judge confirmed today.

A legal challenge to the Government's refusal to hold a public inquiry into the Omagh bomb atrocity will be heard next month, a High Court judge confirmed today.

Victims' relatives were fearing a further postponement to await definitive rulings about how the Human Rights Act impacts on a wider catalogue of so-called legacy litigation.

But with lawyers unable to reach agreement, Mrs Justice Keegan decided to press ahead with the July dates - a month short of the 20th anniversary of the Real IRA attack.

She said: "This case has been set up and listed for some time, people want to get it heard."

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aiden was among 29 people murdered in the August 1998 bombing, is taking legal action over former Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers' refusal to order a public inquiry.

The case centres on claims that a range of intelligence from British security agents, MI5 and RUC officers could have been drawn together to prevent the outrage.

Mr Gallagher launched his legal action after Ms Villiers rejected calls for a public investigation in September 2013.

She decided instead that a probe by Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire was the best way to address any outstanding issues surrounding the atrocity. 

In October 2014 Dr Maguire published a report where he found RUC Special Branch withheld some intelligence information from detectives hunting the bombers.

No one has ever been convicted of carrying out the attack.

Judicial review proceedings have been caught up in arguments over holding partially closed hearings amid fears the disclosure of sensitive material could damage national security.

However, a week has now been set aside for the case.

It is expected that emails between FBI spy David Rupert, who infiltrated the Real IRA, and his handlers, will feature in the challenge.

Mr Gallagher, who attended today's review hearing, expressed delight at the decision to maintain the hearing dates.

He said: "This has been a stop-start process for almost four years, and at least now we can see our day in court.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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