Families must get truth, if not justice
Fifteen years after the Omagh bombing, the worst atrocity of a bloody terrorist campaign lasting three decades, the relatives of the 29 people killed have finally admitted defeat in their fight to bring those guilty of planting the device to justice. It is obviously a decision that was not taken lightly, but no one can deny that they have done everything in their power to identify the bombers and put them in the dock. Indeed the relatives succeeded better than the combined forces of law and order on both sides of the border by at least winning a civil action against the suspects.
But there is one fight that they will not give up and that is to find out as much as possible about how and why the bombing took place and why no convictions were ever secured. The relatives want a public inquiry with input from both sides of the border. And with each new revelation their call becomes more compelling.
Today we report on the belief of a senior former RUC man that Downing Street was warned not to let the army pursue Omagh suspects into south Armagh otherwise the fledgling peace process would collapse. That is a story which ordinarily would beggar belief and Sinn Fein should be asked for their version of events. The police officer also queries why a MI5 and FBI agent inside the dissident Real IRA was never tasked with unmasking the bombers.
These are the sort of questions which will nag constantly at the psyche of the bereaved and injured and it is only proper that some sort of inquiry – we have previously favoured a review along the lines of that carried out on the Pat Finucane murder – should be initiated. In the murky aftermath of the Troubles, the truth is often a very elusive quarry, but the scale of the horror at Omagh and the continuing anguish of those directly affected demands that they be given some sort of justice. The authorities, having failed to jail the bombers, should at least pursue the facts and shine a light on them for all to see.