Belfast Telegraph

Omagh justice campaigner Gallagher backs O'Loan '110%' over comments

 

Nuala O’Loan
Nuala O’Loan
Michael Gallagher
Suzanne Breen

By Suzanne Breen

A man whose son was killed in the Omagh bomb has voiced strong support for Nuala O'Loan and said he also believes the atrocity could have been prevented.

Michael Gallagher described the former Police Ombudsman as "a woman of the utmost honesty and integrity" who had "always told the truth no matter how uncomfortable it might be" to the families.

Mr Gallagher was speaking after widespread criticism of Baroness O'Loan's remarks and her call for a public inquiry on the 20th anniversary of the Real IRA attack. Her claim that the bomb could have been prevented was rejected by PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton.

Kevin Skelton, whose wife Philomena died in the explosion, described the timing of her comments as "despicable" and said he had no interest in a public inquiry. But Mr Gallagher last night said his family stood "110% behind Nuala O'Loan".

He said: "She has been one of the few people in the whole Omagh bomb saga who has shown the utmost honesty and integrity to the families.

"She has always told the truth no matter how uncomfortable that might be. She paid a high price in criticism yesterday for once again doing so."

Mr Gallagher rejected suggestions that Mrs O'Loan chose the wrong day to speak out.

"When is the right day?" He asked. "For some, every day will be insensitive.

"Some people have never forgiven Nuala O'Loan for her constructive criticism of the Omagh bomb investigation in 2001.

"She did not in any way criticise police on the ground on the day of the Omagh bomb. She spoke of the failure of the intelligence services to share information."

Mr Gallagher said that his daughter Cat Wilkinson had "gone to bed on Tuesday night very upset" at the attacks on Mrs O'Loan. He repeated his call for a public inquiry.

"Our family wants to find out the truth about Omagh. If other people don't want a public inquiry, that is their right. But nobody should deny our right to ask for one," he said.

"If our suspicions that the bomb could have been prevented are wrong, let the authorities prove we are wrong. Our campaign is wholly apolitical.

"A public inquiry would answer some very serious questions and highlight the lessons that need to be learned for the future."

Richard Scott, a retired police officer who attended the bomb scene in 1998, has called on Mrs O'Loan to apologise for her "insensitive remarks". Now chairman of Military and Police Support of West Tyrone, which offers support to victims, Mr Scott said Mrs O'Loan has caused enormous hurt on a most painful day.

"By her remarks she has damned the officers on duty that day and for that she must apologise unreservedly to each and every one on duty that day," he claimed.

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

"She must also apologise to those officers who worked tirelessly to bring the perpetrators to justice.

"I reiterate what I have said in the past few days, lay the blame with the terrorists who snuck into Omagh and stop trying to blame everyone else.

"Perhaps Mrs O'Loan will reflect on this, to offer whatever help we can to those affected by this and other atrocities.

"To that end I am proud of my association with Kevin Skelton and his Families Moving On Group. Between them and Military and Police Support of West Tyrone we are working tirelessly, with limited resources, offering basic support to victims and helping them when they are ready to ask for professional help."

Mrs O'Loan has said she is standing by her claims that the bombing could have been prevented.

She told yesterday's Belfast Telegraph she was sorry if her claim and her call for a public inquiry had hurt any relatives, but she had a duty to speak out.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph