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Outrage over the auction of Omagh bomb memorabilia


The 1998 Omagh bombing poster. Credit:

The 1998 Omagh bombing poster. Credit:

The 1998 Omagh bombing poster. Credit:

A campaigner last night called on companies to consider the impact the sale of Troubles-related memorabilia could have on innocent victims.

Kenny Donaldson of the South East Fermanagh Foundation was speaking after an RUC poster seeking information about the August 1998 Omagh bomb sold for seven times its estimate in a controversial auction.

The police appealed for information in the aftermath of the atrocity with a poster about the Vauxhall Cavalier used by the Real IRA bombers.

Twenty-nine people — including a woman pregnant with twins  died after a car bomb planted by the Real IRA exploded in the Co Tyrone town.

More than 200 people were injured in the devastating car bomb blast that destroyed the town’s main street.

In the aftermath, the poster was circulated across Northern Ireland and was used in a television appeal by the RUC.

The auction of the poster had been described by a victims’ campaigner as in “bad taste” but was defended by Dublin auction house Whyte’s.

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In the online auction of historical artefacts, which finished on Sunday, the poster was bought for €750 (£646) by an unknown bidder.

The lot was described by Whytes as “issued by the Royal Ulster Constabulary, with colour images of the car that contained the explosives, seeking information about the perpetrators of the atrocity”.

Said to be in “very fine” condition, the poster had been estimated to go for between €100 and €150.

Kenny Donaldson, SEFF’s director of Services said: “There is something quite dark and ghoulish about this.

“Several Omagh victims/survivors of the Omagh Bomb have spoken to me and to SEFF and their perspective of this issue is very different from Whytes Auctioneers.”

In 2019, Whyte’s sold a Bulgarian-made RPG-7 anti-tank weapon of a type used by the Provisional IRA.

The weapon had been deactivated, Mr Donaldson told the Belfast Telegraph in August 2013. 

The rocket propelled grenade launcher fetched  €10,000 (£8,628) — double its initial estimate.

“Whytes are the company who previously sold an RPG-7 rocket launcher and again their argument was that it was an ‘historical object’ and was connected somehow to the story of ‘The Troubles’,” Mr Donaldson said on Sunday night.

“Yes it was, in the slaughter and mutilation of innocents.

“Companies really should consider the impact such items being included have upon those innocents concerned.”

Ian Whyte, managing director of the auctioneers, said the item was being sold by a collector who is “trimming down his collection”.

“It was dreadful event, but it’s part of our history, unfortunately,” he said.

The auctioneer added: “It’s important that these things are recorded.

“It is a chilling piece of history, but it’s important that artefacts like this are preserved and kept — either by private or public collections.”

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