Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: The Omagh victims deserve more than insensitive remarks

Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Pacemaker Press 15/08/2018 Prayers are held at at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast on the 20th anniversary of Omagh bombing. Prayers are to held at 3.10pm to remember the victims of the bomb in Omagh 20 years ago today. 29 candles where lit for the victims. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. A young girl is seen through the Omagh bomb memorial as the ceremony takes place on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. A young girl is seen through the Omagh bomb memorial as the ceremony takes place on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. A young girl is seen through the Omagh bomb memorial as the ceremony takes place on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People are seen through the Omagh bomb memorial as the ceremony takes place on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People are seen through the Omagh bomb memorial as the ceremony takes place on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. A woman lays flowers at Omagh bomb memorial as the ceremony takes place on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. A bell is rang once during the ceremony for each person who died and then one at the end for everyone. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People are seen through the Omagh bomb memorial as the ceremony takes place on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. A bell is rang once during the ceremony for each person who died and then one at the end for everyone. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. A woman lays flowers at Omagh bomb memorial as the ceremony takes place on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People are seen through the Omagh bomb memorial as the ceremony takes place on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. One of the victims Jolene Marlow's family(right) pictured during the ceremony on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. One of the victims Jolene Marlow's family pictured during the ceremony on the spot of the bombing on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Members of the fire service throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Members of the fire service throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People gather white petals to throw into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th August 2017 Omagh bomb 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony. 29 people were killed in the Co. Tyrone town on 15th August 1998 when a dissident republican bomb exploded on Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon. People throw white petals into the Omagh bomb remembrance garden after the ceremony on Market Street. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Floral tributes left at the Omagh Bomb Memorial, located on Market Street, ahead of 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 gathering on Market Street, Omagh, ahead of 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 gathering on Market Street, Omagh, ahead of 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 gathering on Market Street, Omagh, ahead of 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 gathering on Market Street, Omagh, ahead of 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 gathering on Market Street, Omagh, ahead of 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 gathering 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 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
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
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
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. Pic: 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
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

Editor's Viewpoint

For those bereaved or injured in the Omagh bombing, yesterday's 20th anniversary commemoration was a very emotional occasion.

It may well be the last time a formal ceremony on that scale will ever be held to remember the 31 people killed on August 15, 1998.

Those caught up in the bombing or affected by it will always remember that dreadful day.

It was the worst day of the Troubles, but also the worst day of their lives.

To them, the past 20 years have gone in a trice.

Time is said to be a great healer, but for the people of Omagh, time has given them the strength to cope with their loss but it has not healed the pain, abated the grief or brought anything near closure.

This is why two comments made yesterday struck such a painful note.

Former Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan said she is now convinced that the bombing and the slaughter could have been prevented.

It has to be acknowledged that unlike most of us, she was privy to a lot of intelligence reports while working as Police Ombudsman. But at the time, she said she could not be sure the terror attack could have been prevented.

The question now - as posed by Chief Constable George Hamilton who says her claim is wrong - is what has convinced her to harden her view? There was no explanation given. In any case, it was a comment which should have been made on another day, not on a day of remembrance and acknowledgement of loss.

She, more than most, knows what those caught up in the bombing felt and must still feel. In 1977, she lost her first baby when a bomb exploded in a lecture theatre at the old Ulster Polytechnic - later to become the University of Ulster at Coleraine. She was wrong to make her comments on the bombing yesterday.

It was bound to cause hurt to some of the bereaved and injured.

It would add to their frustration at the inability of police and the legal system to charge and convict those who made, planted and set off the bomb.

So too will the comments of commentator Jude Collins who, in a blog, questioned whether the deaths in Omagh could be classified as murder.

His tenuous argument is that the bombers gave warnings - hopelessly inaccurate as it turned out - and shows they did not intend to kill.

But their actions were reckless, their warnings named the wrong location of the bomb, and anyone who plants a 500lb bomb in a crowded market town can never be given credit for phoning in a warning, accurate or not.

They are simply dicing with people's lives and 31 lost theirs as a result. There can be few who share the view that Omagh was not mass murder.

Certainly those who saw their sons, daughters, wives, husbands or even grandmother go into town that day and never come back alive must feel anger at any suggestion - on yesterday of all days - that they were not murdered.

The bombing of Omagh was a repulsive deed which brought condemnation from all quarters, from home and abroad - even from former active republicans.

What these comments show is the need for great caution when speaking about events which caused huge sorrow to other people.

We need to be sensitive to the feelings of those bereaved or injured. They always occupy the high moral ground in any argument and the rest of us should tread carefully in the foothills. Sadly the victims' feelings were trampled on unnecessarily yesterday.

Belfast Telegraph

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