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RTE star Claire Byrne left speechless by Omagh bomb victim's dad


RTE's Claire Byrne

RTE's Claire Byrne

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan died in the 1998 Omagh bomb.

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan died in the 1998 Omagh bomb.

RTE's Claire Byrne

A prominent RTE broadcaster has revealed how an interview with Michael Gallagher, whose son died in the Omagh bombing, left her struggling to speak while on air.

Claire Byrne, who fronts her own show on the Irish network each week, explained that the 2019 interview she conducted with Mr Gallagher during the height of the cross-border Brexit debate was one that "really crept up" on her.

Recalling the moment now as part of an interview for Human Nature, a new podcast by Northern Ireland journalist Rodney Edwards, Ms Bryne recalled getting visibly emotional in February last year as Mr Gallagher recounted the horror of the 1998 Real IRA atrocity that killed his 21-year-old son Aiden.

"We were covering a lot of Brexit-related stories and the fallout of a hard Brexit should it come to pass," she said.

"And you know, we had learned over time that if a hard Brexit were to happen, there was a real risk of violence returning to the island.

"We were talking to victims of violence in Northern Ireland, and Michael was one of the people we invited in, and myself and my editor decided that we would play some of the news footage from Omagh.

"I didn't expect it. It was on the big screen up to my right and Michael was sitting to my left, and the two of us were looking at it and you know, broken bodies were being carried from shops in that footage.

"I thought, this could be Michael's son, we could be watching Michael's son, and I just turned to him and you know he has that lovely soft face, just a warm gentle heart, a gentle soul, and it just broke me.

"I just looked at him and I just said, 'I'm so sorry for putting you through that', and then my voice caught and I couldn't speak.

"It just got me, I just thought how can this man be standing up?

"To be able to stand up and campaign, it's just like I don't know. I don't think I would have that strength."

Human Nature is a podcast written and presented by Northern Ireland journalist and author Rodney Edwards and is available to listen to on Apple, Spotify, Google Podcasts, SoundCloud and www.impartialreporter.com

Belfast Telegraph