Belfast Telegraph

Omagh bomb challenge delayed until 2019 because of national security issues

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

A long-delayed legal challenge to the British Government's refusal to hold a public inquiry into the Omagh bombing has been put back to next year.

A case brought by the father of a young man killed in the Real IRA atrocity was due to be heard this week at the High Court in Belfast.

But amid issues of national security raised in a closed session, proceedings were adjourned to February 2019.

Mrs Justice Keegan told victims' relatives: "It's frustrating... but this is a very important case and it's important to get it right for everybody's sake."

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aiden was among 29 people murdered in the August 1998 attack, 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 bombing.

Jolene Marlow, aged 17

Mr Gallagher launched his legal action after Ms Villiers rejected calls for a public investigation back 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 outrage. 

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.

Aiden Gallagher

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

Following a series of previous adjournments, the judge had listed the case for full hearing this week - a month short of the 20th anniversary of the bombing.

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

However, legal discussions held behind closed doors led to the further postponement.

Mr Gallagher and fellow campaigner Stanley McCombe, who lost his wife Ann in the blast, were then allowed into court for confirmation of the outcome.

"Now I have seen what the reasoning is on closed session, I'm satisfied that I have to take this course," the judge stressed.

"I'm disappointed myself that I can't get on with it this week, but I will be keeping a close eye on it."

Outside court Mr McCombe gave a positive reaction.

Mena with their daughter Shauna

"I'm happy with the outcome, we know exactly when it's is taking place and the judge is taking a keen interest in it.

"This is going to be a landmark case."

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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