Belfast Telegraph

Viable pipe bomb found at Omagh Remembrance Day cenotaph security alert - violent dissident republicans blamed

The Remembrance Day wreath laying ceremony was postponed.

By Claire Williamson

The PSNI have confirmed a viable pipe bomb device was found near a cenotaph in Omagh which caused disruption to a wreath-laying ceremony on Remembrance Sunday,

The suspicious object was discovered on Sunday morning in the Drumragh Avenue area of Omagh.

A police operation was launched and the Remembrance Day wreath-laying ceremony was postponed after the parade was diverted and the area was sealed off.

The alert ended just before 6pm on Sunday evening.

It comes almost two decades after a dissident republican Real IRA blast killed 29 in the busy market town in 1998.

Chief Constable George Hamilton said one strong line of enquiry is that violent dissident republicans are responsible.

He said: "This small but potentially dangerous device was left to cause the maximum amount of disruption to the Remembrance Sunday commemorations. This is the action of a small and callous group of violent people who have nothing to offer our communities other than fear and intimidation.

"Whilst our investigation into the incident is at a very early stage one strong line of enquiry is that violent dissident republicans are responsible. Their actions today have demonstrated the disregard and disrespect they have for this community, which has already suffered so much pain and hurt at the hands of terrorists.

"It was a sickening and appalling act on a day which should bring people together to remember the sacrifice made by people from all our communities."

The bomb alert also came exactly 30 years after 12 people were killed by an IRA bomb in Enniskillen in Co Fermanagh.

DUP leader Arlene Foster tweeted: "On a day we remember the carnage of Enniskillen 30 years ago it is disgusting that Remembrance Sunday in Omagh was disrupted by those who left a suspicious device in the town."

Secretary of State James Brokenshire said there is "no place in society" for those behind the incident.

Mr Brokenshire said: "Sickening and despicable that on Remembrance Sunday when we gather to honour those who paid the ultimate sacrifice that someone should have placed a device in Omagh.

"There is no place in society for these faceless people who want to drag us back to the dark days of Northern Ireland's past."

SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan said: “I completely condemn those behind the security alert in Omagh.

“This has caused significant disruption to local people and to the Remembrance Day commemorations.

“We must all unite in our condemnation. People must have the right to remember their dead and all of us must respect that."

Ulster Unionist Councillor Chris Smyth described the alert as "disgusting" but said he was "proud" that the parade went ahead.

Councillor Smyth said: “With heavy hearts but heads held high, we paraded to where the service was held. While we did not get the opportunity to lay wreaths, we will not be cowed by terrorists.

“As we go forward we need to hear a very clear message from all sections of the community that attacking a service of remembrance can only be described as wrong.  There can be no justification for it.”

West Tyrone DUP MLA Tom Buchanan said he was disgusted at the alert which has disrupted the annual Remembrance Sunday commemoration.

Mr Buchanan said: “Remembrance Sunday is a day when we pause to commemorate all those from every background who paid the supreme sacrifice. It is disgusting that anyone would target a war memorial at any time, but on Remembrance Sunday it is an act of particular hatred.

"Omagh has a long association of service within our Armed Forces and those who served came from all backgrounds and traditions. The cowardice of those who left this device stands in stark contrast to the bravery of those who are commemorated today.

"Whilst the annual Remembrance Service has been able to continue in Omagh Academy, there has been an impact on the events which would normally take place. It is right that the security forces take all the necessary precautions and I would pay tribute to their efforts in keeping people safe.”

Sinn Fein MLA Catherine Kelly said those behind the alert had shown "complete disregard" for all people in the community.

She said: "The ongoing security alert in the Drumragh Avenue area has caused significant disruption to local residents and to Remembrance Day commemorations.

“Everyone has a right to remember their dead with dignity and respect and those responsible for this security alert have shown complete disregard for all the people of this community.

“The alert has seen the closure of Drumragh Avenue, Mountjoy Road, Sedan Avenue, George Street and High Street.

"If this does prove to be a viable device those responsible must be condemned in the strongest possible terms."

Alliance West Tyrone representative Stephen Donnelly said urged anyone with information to contact police immediately.

He said: “This is a disgusting move by people who represent nobody, intended to cause as much disruption as possible for those attending the parade.

“Those behind this have no regard for the lives of others in the community – people are sick of this sort of behaviour and have voiced their opposition to it in the past. There can be absolutely no justification for it and I would appeal for it to stop.

“My thanks go to the police and security services for their work in keeping local residents safe. If anyone has any information on this incident, I urge them to contact police immediately.”

Police enquiries into the incident are now underway and anyone with any information is asked to contact police in Omagh on 101 quoting reference number 100 12/11/17. Information can also be given anonymously through the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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