Belfast Telegraph

Police chief vows to do ‘all that we can’ to bring justice over Omagh bombing

An inter-denominational service took place at the Memorial Garden in the Co Tyrone town on Sunday.

Northern Ireland’s top police officer has vowed to do all he can to bring those responsible for the Omagh bombing to justice.

Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland George Hamilton warned that as time goes by, the chances of securing a criminal justice outcome “reduces”.

He was speaking as relatives of those killed in the Real IRA bomb gathered to remember their loved ones 20 years on.

An inter-denominational service took place at the Memorial Garden in the Co Tyrone town on Sunday.

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Family and relatives gather at the inter-denominational service at the Memorial Garden in Omagh (Liam McBurney/PA)

No-one has ever been convicted of the murders of the 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins.

Speaking after the event, Mr Hamilton said: “We will do all that we can within the law to gather evidence that brings those responsible for this horrible atrocity to justice.

“If there are evidential opportunities, we will grasp them with both hands.

“If there’s new science or technology that allow us to exploit and harvest more evidence from the exhibits that we already collected, of course we will do all of that. We will not be found wanting.

“It is also fair to say that as time goes by, the chances of a criminal justice outcome reduce.

“It’s important to come and stand with this community, given the grief and trauma they have suffered over the past 20 years.

People visit the Omagh Memorial garden after attending the ceremony for victims of the car bomb on Market Street on the 15th August 1998. 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. 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
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
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
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. 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
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
Fr Kevin Mullan reading a poem entitled "A call to return" 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
The 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb was held in the memorial garden in Omagh. PICTURE MATT BOHILL PACEMAKER
12/8/18 PACEMAKER PRESS The 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb was held in the memorial garden in Omagh. Victims who "suffered and those who are still suffering" have been remembered at a cross-community ceremony ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - died in the 1998 attack in the County Tyrone town. The memorial included prayers in both English and Irish as well as a reading in Spanish, the native tongue of two of the victims. PICTURE MATT BOHILL PACEMAKER
12/8/18 PACEMAKER PRESS The 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb was held in the memorial garden in Omagh. Victims who "suffered and those who are still suffering" have been remembered at a cross-community ceremony ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - died in the 1998 attack in the County Tyrone town. The memorial included prayers in both English and Irish as well as a reading in Spanish, the native tongue of two of the victims. PICTURE MATT BOHILL PACEMAKER
12/8/18 PACEMAKER PRESS The 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb was held in the memorial garden in Omagh. Victims who "suffered and those who are still suffering" have been remembered at a cross-community ceremony ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - died in the 1998 attack in the County Tyrone town. The memorial included prayers in both English and Irish as well as a reading in Spanish, the native tongue of two of the victims. PICTURE MATT BOHILL PACEMAKER
12/8/18 PACEMAKER PRESS The 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb was held in the memorial garden in Omagh. Victims who "suffered and those who are still suffering" have been remembered at a cross-community ceremony ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - died in the 1998 attack in the County Tyrone town. The memorial included prayers in both English and Irish as well as a reading in Spanish, the native tongue of two of the victims. PICTURE MATT BOHILL PACEMAKER
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Shailesh Vara MP and Irish Minister Simin Harris join relatives and guests to take part in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
The 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb was held in the memorial garden in Omagh. PICTURE MATT BOHILL PACEMAKER
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Shailesh Vara MP and Irish Minister Simin Harris join relatives and guests to take part in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Shailesh Vara MP and Irish Minister Simin Harris join relatives and guests to take part in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Shailesh Vara MP and Irish Minister Simin Harris with Michael Gallagher in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Shailesh Vara MP and Irish Minister Simin Harris join relatives and guests to take part in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Shailesh Vara MP and Irish Minister Simin Harris join relatives and guests to take part in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Shailesh Vara MP and Irish Minister Simin Harris with Michael Gallagher in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Shailesh Vara MP and Irish Minister Simin Harris with Michael Gallagher in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Relatives and guests take part in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Shailesh Vara MP and Irish Minister Simin Harris join relatives and guests to take part in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Members of Omagh Community Youth Choir take part in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
12/8/18 PACEMAKER PRESS The 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb was held in the memorial garden in Omagh. Pictured campaigner Michael Gallagher. PICTURE MATT BOHILL PACEMAKER
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Michael Gallagher join relatives and guests to take part in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
12/8/18 PACEMAKER PRESS The 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb was held in the memorial garden in Omagh. Pictured survivor Donna Marie McGillion. PICTURE MATT BOHILL PACEMAKER
The 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb was held in the memorial garden in Omagh. Pictured George Hamilton..PICTURE MATT BOHILL PACEMAKER
12/8/18 PACEMAKER PRESS The 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb was held in the memorial garden in Omagh. PICTURE MATT BOHILL PACEMAKER
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Shailesh Vara MP and Irish Minister Simin Harris join relatives and guests to take part in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
12/8/18 PACEMAKER PRESS The 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb was held in the memorial garden in Omagh. Pixtured Miinster Shailesh Vara MP and Minister Simon Harris. PICTURE MATT BOHILL PACEMAKER
12/8/18 PACEMAKER PRESS The 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb was held in the memorial garden in Omagh. Michael Gallagher Omagh bomb campaigner. PICTURE MATT BOHILL PACEMAKER
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Shailesh Vara MP and Irish Minister Simin Harris join relatives and guests to take part in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th August 2018 - Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Shailesh Vara MP and Irish Minister Simin Harris join relatives and guests to take part in the Omagh Bomb Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden of Light ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. Twenty-nine people - including a woman pregnant with twins - were killed in a car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town in 1998. It was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

“There have been many dark days for them, there has been much frustration around the lack of criminal justice outcomes, I understand that.

“If we have opportunities, we will take them.”

Donna Marie McGillion, 42, from Omagh, who was left seriously injured in the attack, described the memorial as an “emotional day”.

Mrs McGillion suffered 65% third degree burns and was left in a coma for almost seven weeks after the blast.

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Garry and Donna Marie McGillion with their daughter Cara (Liam McBurney/PA)

She was due to marry her husband Garry a week after the bomb, however the pair married some six months later.

The mother of two, whose daughter Cara, 16, sang in the choir at the event, said: “It’s an emotional day and first and foremost my thoughts are with the families of the 31 as they will be finding it extremely difficult 20 years on.

“It’s a special day and a way to help us move forward but ultimately this is about the 31 who walked with us in the town that day and aren’t with us today.

“Remembering this day is a personal thing and people do whatever it is they need to do. For me, I always did my own thing. I did attend the anniversary events for the first five years but it was very hard.

“So we’ve been doing our thing. There is never, ever a day where I don’t think about the 31 who aren’t here.

“I have two children who weren’t born when it happened, but they certainly live with it.

“I’m still going for surgery and after the bomb I had to wear a plastic mask over my face for four years.

“I have lung damage and still have shrapnel embedded at the top of my neck and bottom of my back. There are still days where I can barely move.

“I just try to get on with it now.”

Omagh station watch commander Paddy Quinn, who was one of the first firefighters to respond to the bomb, said it is the worst incident he has ever attended.

He had been at work at a flooring shop at 3.10pm on August 15 1998 when the bomb exploded.

Mr Quinn recalled the moment he arrived at the scene.

“People were asking me to help them look for their children, wives and family members,” he said.

“I never understood forgiveness at that time but I do now, I used to think why could you not forgive but when I saw what happened I knew why they couldn’t forgive, it’s an impossible thing to do.

“I can only imagine the hurt those people feel.

“We searched and searched and helped where we could. Members of the public used doors as stretchers and I could hear women and children shouting and screaming. It was fairly intense.

“It’s only this week that I have been able to talk about it. It has stuck with me a long time.”

Mr Quinn said his son was celebrating his 11th birthday when the bomb exploded and he had collected him from town a short time before it happened.

“As community firefighters you just go and do it because these are your people,” he added.

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