Omagh families to boycott anniversary
The families of some victims of the Omagh bombing, in which 29 people died, have announced that they will boycott a ceremony to mark the tenth anniversary of the atrocity.
The decision introduced a note of discord to attempts to provide a dignified commemoration of the event in 1998, which is regarded as one of the worst incidents of the Troubles.
The size of the death toll, and that it took place as the Northern Ireland conflict seemed to be subsiding, means it has stayed high in the public consciousness in Ireland and further afield.
It has also been kept in the public eye by the Omagh Support and Self Help Group, which has been involved in high-profile publicity and legal battles, and by the production of a feature film.
Yesterday, the group said it would have no part in the commemoration to be held on Friday next week, claiming it had not been consulted by the organisers, the local council. The group will hold its own memorial event on Sunday, instead.
Kevin Skelton, whose wife, Philomena, died in the bombing, said: "There's a whole range of issues I've got problems with. The whole wording issue and some of the politicians that are going to be there – I think the council have made a real mess of it altogether."
Local observers say the council has tried to reach a consensus on the design of a garden of remembrance, which is to have a glass obelisk, and on the wording of a memorial. It appointed an independent committee to advise on the issues, with councillors unanimously accepting its recommendations.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the large numbers of people bereaved by the bomb, those affected have not been in complete agreement on how to conduct themselves. Some have said little or nothing in public, while the Self Help Group has, by contrast, pursued a number of avenues.
In particular it has, with government support, launched a multimillion-pound civil action claim for damages from five Republicans, accusing them of being leading members of the Real IRA. The Self Help Group has often been critical of the authorities, saying the Government should launch an independent inquiry into the bombing.
It has also accused the Irish government of making many promises, "but in reality the substance is very little".
Omagh district council's chairman, Martin Mcloughlin, a member of Sinn Fein, said yesterday: "I would love to see everyone there on Friday. As a council we have tried to do our best to mark the anniversary.
"I realise it's a sensitive time and different people will react differently, but I can't legislate for how some families are going to react."
The council's moderate nationalist vice-chair, Josephine Deehan, added: "I very much respect the decision of individual family members not to attend.
"It was always going to be very difficult to get 100 per cent consensus around what the council should or shouldn't do. But we consulted widely and we took the best decision that we could."
- 1 Woman 'suffocates newborn baby in plastic bag and puts it in her desk minutes after giving birth'
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 Chinese student carries disabled friend to school every day for three years
Nepal earthquake in pictures: Photos show devastation caused by 7.8 magnitude earthquake
Royal baby: Live updates as superbug closes ward at St Mary's Hospital in London where Duchess of Cambridge is due to give birth
Nepal earthquake: Rescuers forced to dig with their bare hands in search for survivors as images show damage to historic buildings
Ed Miliband and Boris Johnson in angry clash live on BBC's Andrew Marr Show
Bali Nine executions: British grandmother on death row in Indonesia Lindsay Sandiford says she 'just wants to get it over with'
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...