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Australian counter-terrorism experts visit Omagh bomb group

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Pictured at the visit of a counter-terrorism delegation from Washington and Australia to the Omagh Support and Self Help Group are (from left): Dr Anne Aly, founder of People Against Violent Extremism, Michael Gallagher, Peter Kelly, who is originally from Dromore and Karen Dickman from the Washington-based IMTD Diplomacy institute.

THE importance of links between groups representing victims of terrorism, was highlighted on Thursday during the visit to Omagh of a joint delegation from Washington and Australia.

Members of People Against Violent Extremism – whose founder advises the families of the 88 Australian victims of the 2002 Bali attack – said that they had taken inspiration from the relatives of those killed in the Omagh bomb.

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Dr Anne Aly, a counter-terrorism expert at Curtin University in Perth, made the comments during a meeting with the Omagh Support and Self Help group last Thursday.

“Terrorism victims around the world take inspiration from the efforts of the Omagh relatives in both pursuing accountability and making governments listen,” she said.

“More importantly, these families are an amazing example of people-power against violent extremism, that we can all learn from and partner with.”

Dr Aly was joined by Rev Karen Dickman from the Washington-based IMTD diplomacy institute, which has worked on initiatives to support Northern Ireland’s peace process since 1990.

She said that they would do all they could to support the victims of the Troubles.

“We reach out from Washington to assist victims in their efforts for justice and healing, by connecting them with global partners and American initiatives,” she said.

Both Dr Aly and Rev Dickman plan to meet with out-going Victims Commissioner Kathryn Stone, Stormont’s Justice Committee and members of the Northern Ireland Select Committee at Westminster.

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Former Dromore journalist, Peter Kelly, who now works in Washington was the link between both experts and the Omagh bomb families.

He added that the meeting was a continuation of the international assistance which has helped humanitarian efforts in Ireland strengthen the peace process.

These comments were echoed by Michael Gallagher of the OSSHG who has now been invited to speak at a counter-terrorism conference in Australia later this year.

“Over the years, we have developed links with a number of victims’ organisations all over the world and worked to share experiences with them,” he said.

“It is vital that all of us consider the achievements which have been made and what we have learned from those shared experiences and the success in Omagh in terms of launching a landmark civil case is one of the examples of this.”

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