Omagh bombing families deserve an inquiry
After the Omagh bombing in 1998, the relatives of the 29 people, including the mother of unborn twins, killed and the 200 injured were told by British and Irish prime ministers Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern that no stone would be left unturned in the efforts to bring those responsible for the atrocity to justice.
Now the families want the two governments to carry out a public inquiry into the atrocity. It is a demand which is viewed with great sympathy across the entire province. The bombing was carried out by dissident republicans who didn't care who they killed. Protestants and Catholics, young and old people from Omagh and surrounding areas, and schoolboys from Spain and Donegal died in the carnage. Their relatives and those who were injured deserve to know all the facts behind the bombing.
A public inquiry could find out if – as seems likely – there was intelligence which could have prevented the Real IRA bombing and if all leads on those responsible were properly investigated. The RUC investigation was strongly criticised by the Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan, who supports the families' call for a cross-border inquiry. The weight of evidence for an inquiry seems compelling and would go some way to helping the families.
There are fears that any inquiry could end up like the probe into Bloody Sunday which took years to complete at an estimated cost of £400m. But that need not be the case. The de Silva review of the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane, although criticised by his family, did uncover involvement by state forces in the murder and led to an apology from Prime Minister David Cameron. That review could serve as a template for an inquiry into the Omagh bombing and perhaps give the families the answers they have been seeking.