Belfast Telegraph

Omagh massacre injured still waiting for compensation 20 years after atrocity

By Donna Deeney and Adrian Rutherford

People injured in the Omagh bombing are still waiting for compensation - 20 years after the atrocity, it has emerged.

Officials confirmed that two cases linked to the Real IRA massacre have yet to be settled.

Those affected are believed to be among the most seriously injured in the attack, which killed 29 people, including a women pregnant with unborn twins.

It has led to calls for a review of the process, amid claims that some victims have been re-traumatised.

Donna Marie McGillion (42), who was seriously injured in the bombing, had to wait 14 years to secure compensation.

She said: "It was slightly more difficult to come to terms with than getting over the injuries I sustained - that is how horrific the process is."

A spokesman for the Department of Justice confirmed that two cases linked to Omagh were outstanding.

News of the delay emerged as the town marks the 20th anniversary of the atrocity.

Ms McGillion said the process to secure compensation was "horrific".

She said she was made to feel like she was "begging" for money. She was one of the most seriously injured and initially given a 20% chance of survival.

She suffered burns to most of her body and required a series of surgeries over several years.

Ms McGillion said: "The compensation process was very difficult but I was lucky in one respect because I had an amazing solicitor who protected me as much as he could.

"To be fair they did make it as easy as they could but it was just so, so traumatic and so long and drawn out."

She added: "There is an onus on you to prove everything and words on their own are not enough, it is difficult.

"It was around 14 years before I got the whole thing sorted, which is unbelievable."

According to Ms McGillion, the time it took to treat her complex injuries was a factor in the delay.

However, she still believes the process needs to be revamped.

"There was a time during the process that they couldn't really do anything because I was still having surgery and they weren't sure how it would fare, so they didn't know what the long term prognosis was," she said.

"My injuries made it a bit more complicated to settle but I really do think the whole process needs to be looked at because you relive everything - you go through it again and again."

Ms McGillion said money would never have compensated for the trauma of Omagh.

She added: "No matter what was awarded, it is never going to give me what I lost, it was never going to make me look like me again and it was never going to take my pain away."

A solicitor who represented some of the survivors said he was shocked that anyone would have to wait for such a long time for financial redress.

Brendan Kearney, from Londonderry, said there was no reason for it to drag on for two decades.

"I have represented people in many personal injury claims and have never come across any that took more than four or five years, including victims of the Omagh bomb," he said.

"I cannot understand why it would take this long, there should be no reason for it."

The Department of Justice declined to comment on the reasons for the delays to compensation being paid.

Belfast Telegraph

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