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SDLP apology after party members back council motion to oppose Omagh bomber's extradition to Lithuania

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Liam Campbell

Liam Campbell

Liam Campbell

The SDLP leader on Fermanagh and Omagh District Council has apologised "unreservedly" saying it was wrong a council committee backed a motion opposing the extradition of a man found by a civil court to have co-ordinated the 1998 Omagh bombing.

Mary Garrity said when the matter comes before the full council for ratification her party will oppose it.

"I acknowledge the pain and hurt the decision has caused this morning, particularly to the Omagh bomb families and I want to apologise unreservedly," she said.

"The SDLP has opposed violence and the perpetrators of violence for fifty years, it was never our intention to cause additional hurt to victims and as a council group, we regret that.”

A motion, to oppose the extradition of Liam Campbell from the Republic to Lithuania where he is wanted on international weapons trafficking charges, was proposed by Independent Councillor, Bernice Swift last night.

It passed with the support of the SDLP, Sinn Fein and some Independent councillors.

Campbell was found by a civil court to have planned the Omagh bombing.

A woman who was left with horrific injuries in the atrocity described the move to oppose his extradition as "deeply hurtful".

Donna Marie McGillion still suffers from the injuries she sustained in the Real IRA bomb that devastated Omagh town, killing 29 people and two unborn babies on August 15, 1998.

Reacting to the vote, Mrs McGillion said: "I am absolutely flabbergasted that such a motion would be brought to our council at all but for people who should know better to vote in support of it is deeply hurtful.

"That our councillors should think more about the human rights of that man (Liam Campbell) than the human rights of the people who died in Omagh or of the human rights of people like me who have been left to live with the daily pain and suffering leaves me dumbfounded."

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The damage caused by a bomb explosion in Market Street, Omagh (Paul McErlane/PA)

The damage caused by a bomb explosion in Market Street, Omagh (Paul McErlane/PA)

The damage caused by a bomb explosion in Market Street, Omagh (Paul McErlane/PA)

It was agreed at the meeting that a letter would be sent to the Taoiseach of Ireland voicing Omagh and Fermanagh Council's opposition to the extradition of Campbell.

The Chairman of Omagh and Fermanagh Council, Chris Smyth (UUP) said it will be "cold day in Hell" before he puts his signature to any such letter.

Chris Smyth (UUP) described the proposal as "nauseating" and added: "I thought the rights of our citizens would have been the primary concern of the Council which covers the Omagh area.

“I simply cannot understand what has possessed the members of the council who thought it appropriate to lobby on behalf of Mr Campbell when the victims of the bomb still go without proper justice.

“The proposal has asked that ‘the council’ writes to the Taoiseach to voice its opposition to the extradition. Councillor Swift did not to my knowledge elaborate on whether this was to be done by the Council Chair or Chief Executive, but for the avoidance of doubt, it will be a cold day in hell before I put my name to such a letter."

Belfast Telegraph