Belfast Telegraph

Omagh bombing gave our victims' support group impetus, says SEFF chair

Shock: Eric Brown
Shock: Eric Brown

By Gillian Halliday

The chairman of a victims' support group has recalled how a planned meeting to form the organisation took place just hours after the Omagh bomb atrocity unfolded.

Eric Brown helped found the South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) with two friends who gathered at his then home in Lisnaskea on the evening of August 15, 1998.

Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Pacemaker Press 15/08/2018 Prayers are held at at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast on the 20th anniversary of Omagh bombing. Prayers are to held at 3.10pm to remember the victims of the bomb in Omagh 20 years ago today. 29 candles where lit for the victims. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. A young girl is seen through the Omagh bomb memorial as the ceremony takes place on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. A young girl is seen through the Omagh bomb memorial as the ceremony takes place on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. A young girl is seen through the Omagh bomb memorial as the ceremony takes place on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People are seen through the Omagh bomb memorial as the ceremony takes place on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People are seen through the Omagh bomb memorial as the ceremony takes place on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. A woman lays flowers at Omagh bomb memorial as the ceremony takes place on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. A bell is rang once during the ceremony for each person who died and then one at the end for everyone. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People are seen through the Omagh bomb memorial as the ceremony takes place on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. A bell is rang once during the ceremony for each person who died and then one at the end for everyone. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. A woman lays flowers at Omagh bomb memorial as the ceremony takes place on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People are seen through the Omagh bomb memorial as the ceremony takes place on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. One of the victims Jolene Marlow's family(right) pictured during the ceremony on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. One of the victims Jolene Marlow's family pictured during the ceremony on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Members of the fire service throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Members of the fire service throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People gather white petals to throw into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Floral tributes left at the Omagh Bomb Memorial, located on Market Street, ahead of the ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing on 15 August 1998. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 15, 2018. The worst single atrocity of the Northern Ireland conflict killed 29, including a woman pregnant with twins. See PA story ULSTER Omagh. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People gathering on Market Street, Omagh, ahead of the ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing on 15 August 1998. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 15, 2018. The worst single atrocity of the Northern Ireland conflict killed 29, including a woman pregnant with twins. See PA story ULSTER Omagh. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People gathering on Market Street, Omagh, ahead of the ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing on 15 August 1998. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 15, 2018. The worst single atrocity of the Northern Ireland conflict killed 29, including a woman pregnant with twins. See PA story ULSTER Omagh. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People gathering on Market Street, Omagh, ahead of the ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing on 15 August 1998. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 15, 2018. The worst single atrocity of the Northern Ireland conflict killed 29, including a woman pregnant with twins. See PA story ULSTER Omagh. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People gathering on Market Street, Omagh, ahead of the ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing on 15 August 1998. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 15, 2018. The worst single atrocity of the Northern Ireland conflict killed 29, including a woman pregnant with twins. See PA story ULSTER Omagh. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People gathering on Market Street, Omagh, ahead of the ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing on 15 August 1998. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 15, 2018. The worst single atrocity of the Northern Ireland conflict killed 29, including a woman pregnant with twins. See PA story ULSTER Omagh. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People gathering on Market Street, Omagh, during the ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing on 15 August 1998. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 15, 2018. The worst single atrocity of the Northern Ireland conflict killed 29, including a woman pregnant with twins. See PA story ULSTER Omagh. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People visit the Omagh Memorial garden after attending the ceremony for victims of the car bomb on Market Street on the 15th August 1998. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 15, 2018. The worst single atrocity of the Northern Ireland conflict killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins. See PA story ULSTER Omagh. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People visit the Omagh Memorial garden after attending the ceremony for victims of the car bomb on Market Street on the 15th August 1998. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 15, 2018. The worst single atrocity of the Northern Ireland conflict killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins. See PA story ULSTER Omagh. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
White Rose petals are thrown into a pond at the Omagh Memorial garden by people who attended the ceremony for victims of the car bomb on Market Street on the 15th August 1998. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 15, 2018. The worst single atrocity of the Northern Ireland conflict killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins. See PA story ULSTER Omagh. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Richard Scott reads a poem entitled "Reality" during the ceremony for victims of the Omagh bombing at the site where a car bomb exploded on Market Street in Omagh on 15 August 1998. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 15, 2018. The worst single atrocity of the Northern Ireland conflict killed 29, including a woman pregnant with twins. See PA story ULSTER Omagh. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People observe a minutes silence on Market Street, Omagh, during the ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing on 15 August 1998. Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People gathered on Market Street, Omagh, during the ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing on 15 August 1998. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 15, 2018. The worst single atrocity of the Northern Ireland conflict killed 29, including a woman pregnant with twins. See PA story ULSTER Omagh. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People gathered on Market Street, Omagh, during the ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing on 15 August 1998. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 15, 2018. The worst single atrocity of the Northern Ireland conflict killed 29, including a woman pregnant with twins. See PA story ULSTER Omagh. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People gathered on Market Street, Omagh, during the ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing on 15 August 1998. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 15, 2018. The worst single atrocity of the Northern Ireland conflict killed 29, including a woman pregnant with twins. See PA story ULSTER Omagh. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Kevin Skelton, whose wife Philomena died in the blast during the ceremony for victims of the Omagh car bombing on Market Street on the 15th August 1998. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 15, 2018. The worst single atrocity of the Northern Ireland conflict killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins. See PA story ULSTER Omagh. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

It was the same day a massive car bomb planted by dissident republicans exploded in Omagh, killing 29 people - including a woman pregnant with unborn twins.

As victims' relatives gathered in Omagh to mark the 20th anniversary, yesterday also marked two decades of SEFF, which has helped more than 1,100 people affected by terrorism across Northern Ireland and beyond.

Reflecting on the group's beginnings, Mr Brown revealed how the bomb attack, which was carried out by the Real IRA, made them even more determined to get SEFF up and running.

"What happened in Omagh gave us impetus," revealed the Co Fermanagh man.

"We knew what we had to do.

"The meeting had been planned prior to that, a week to 10 days earlier. It was a coincidence. It wasn't a formal meeting. Omagh was reflected on and it was the main subject of what was talked about.

"Like everybody, we were in shock.

"Across the country, people were trying to find out news.

"At that stage, people didn't know the full horror of it all, the full extent of it, some people had yet to be still properly identified."

The victims' campaigner said, like everybody on that fateful day, he can still remember clearly what he was doing when he first learned of the bombing, which was the single worst act of terrorism to take place during the Troubles.

"I had been out with some guys working to get some pens ready to rear some game," he explained. "We stopped to get something to eat and the news broke. We were shocked."

He said everyone at the meeting wanted to do something positive in light of the horrific event.

"There was an impetus; here we are, this is still going on and we need to try and do something, and in the early days, it was case of just trying to do something," said Mr Brown.

SEFF, which marked its own 20th anniversary with a service of thanksgiving on Tuesday, has also offered support to those who had been affected by Omagh over the years, Mr Brown added.

"We have members now who were there on the day of the Omagh bombing and it's as painful for them now as it was on the actual event," he said.

"The hurt never leaves and they will take it to their grave."

Omagh remembers, pages 6-7

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