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Omagh bomb relatives to seek meeting with Leo Varadkar

Michael Gallagher lays flowers in memory of his son Aiden on Sunday alongside Sandra Patterson on behalf of the Omagh Support and Self Help Group. (Photo: Jude Browne)

The Irish Government has said it is still considering its response to a confidential report on the Omagh bomb presented to former Justice Minister Alan Shatter more than five years ago.

A number of relatives who lost loved ones in the August 15 1998 Real IRA atrocity, presented the specially commissioned report in July 2012.

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Outlining a series of intelligence failings, the report was delivered in the hope of bolstering the case for a full cross-border public inquiry.

But despite former Taoiseach Enda Kenny pledging in October 2015 to give a full response to the report once criminal proceedings were concluded, none has been forthcoming nearly 18 months on from the collapse of the trial against Seamus Daly.

Nineteen years to the day since the car bomb ripped through Market Street, killing 29 people along with unborn twins, a spokesperson for the Department of the Taoiseach told the Ulster Herald, “Very careful consideration has been given to the matters raised by the Omagh group and, indeed, this was necessary given the complex and sensitive nature of the issues involved.

“Consideration of the matters involved is now being concluded with a view to finalising a response to the Omagh group in the near future.”
Although he said he welcomed any progress on the matter, Michael Gallagher, who lost his son Aiden in the attack, described the delay as “appalling”.

“This report was given to the British, Irish and Spanish governments in support of a cross-border public inquiry,” he said.

“We were showing them the number of issues which need to be addressed in a public inquiry.”

The carnage left in the wake of the August 15 1998 bomb on Market Street, Omagh.

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TAOISEACH’S PLEDGE

Mr Gallagher said Enda Kenny had pledged to provide a full response to the document within one calendar month of the conclusion of the criminal case against Seamus Daly, the only person ever charged in relation to attack. That case collapsed on March 1 2016.

“How we’ve been treated is appalling,” said the Omagh man. “These people said they were going to do everything possible to assist us, yet when we asked them, there has been delay after delay.

“It has been years and now we have a new Taoiseach.”

Mr Gallagher said that in light of the response to the Ulster Herald, a delegation of families would now seek a meeting with new Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

“These issues are of such a level that they need to be dealt with at the highest level of government,” he said.

In its full statement to the Ulster Herald, the Department of the Taoiseach described the Omagh bomb as “among the worst atrocities ever committed on this island”.

“While considerable efforts were made, North and South, it is a matter of great regret that the perpetrators of the bombing have not been brought to justice in relation to it.

“The Gardaí stand ready to pursue fully any new or additional evidence that might come to light.”

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Ulster Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 10-14 John Street, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, N. Ireland, BT781DW