Belfast Telegraph

Omagh bomb victim's dad hits out at broadcaster Hartley-Brewer's 'insensitive' tweet

By Gillian Halliday

The father of an Omagh bomb victim yesterday slammed an "insensitive" tweet made by a broadcaster, who used the anniversary of the atrocity to joke about Jeremy Corbyn's links to Irish republicanism.

Michael Gallagher yesterday criticised Julia Hartley-Brewer's tweet, which appeared just hours before a commemoration service for the victims on Sunday.

In her tweet, she said the Labour leader, who has long-standing connections to the Irish republican movement, had paid tribute to the victims on the 20th anniversary of the atrocity, "including the Real IRA bombers who may have snagged a nail while planting the explosives".

Her tweet, accompanied by an image of the aftermath of the blast, sparked a backlash that later prompted the commentator, who currently presents a talkRadio programme, to defend it as "satire", as well as further accusing Mr Corbyn of "repeatedly" paying tribute to "dead terrorists".

Mr Gallagher, whose 21-year-old son Aiden was one of 29 people killed by the 1998 bombing, said that while he wouldn't have "much faith" in Mr Corbyn, Ms Hartley-Brewer's tweet was "poorly timed".

"I think it would have been better if she just had acknowledged the event and sympathised with the victims," said Mr Gallagher.

"We can all point-score, but that was not the time to be satirical.

"Yesterday was not the day for that.

"I think it was insensitive."

He said his thoughts on the matter were summed up by a Twitter user from Omagh, who stated: "I am sick, hurt and appalled that anyone could make political points out of the destruction of my lovely home town and 29 innocent people who died that day."

Sky News Ireland correspondent David Blevins also called out Hartley-Brewer. "Julia, how long did you spend thinking about the dead and their dignified families before deciding the 20th anniversary of Northern Ireland's worst single atrocity was the stuff of satire?" he said.

See pages 8&9

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