Victims’ group demands full inquiry into Omagh bomb

New information shows that atrocity which claimed 29 lives could have been prevented

Families bereaved by the Omagh bombing have demanded a full public inquiry into the attack which killed 29 people in the Co Tyrone town in August 1998.

They announced they have compiled a report containing significant new information on the incident, suggesting serious security deficiencies both before and after the bombing, the worst attack of the Troubles.

They are supported in their campaign by Amnesty International and former Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan. She said that – since she compiled a report on the bombing 12 years ago – significant new information, which she said was a cause for enormous concern, should be professionally investigated.

Omagh relatives group chairman Michael Gallagher said they had decided not to publish the report since they did not want to do anything to prejudice any future trial or compromise any of the techniques used by the intelligence services. Details of the report, first revealed by The Independent on Monday, included allegations of possible FBI involvement in tracking the bomb car, and cross-border friction between police forces.

Mr Gallagher read snatches of a memo filed by an FBI agent before the bombing in which Londonderry and Omagh were named as “suspected viable targets.” The agent also reported meeting a Real IRA figure who “was excited that something might be happening in the next few weeks.”

Families maintain that “an enormous amount” of intelligence had existed but had not been used properly. They believe that although the Real IRA had been targeted by the FBI, MI5 and police on both sides of the Irish border, intelligence had not been shared among the agencies.

They said the bombing could have been prevented by roadblocks placed around the town.

The group has obtained 4,000 emails written to an FBI handler by agent David Rupert, who successfully infiltrated the Real IRA, which carried out the bombing. Mr Rupert’s evidence led to the conviction of the organisation’s leader. Mr Gallagher said the material showed that Mr Rupert had sent an enormous amount of money and bomb components to the Real IRA from the US. He said: “My question is: how far away was this from state-sponsored terrorism?”

He criticised British and Irish ministers who were given the report more than a year ago. He said Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers had been very courteous towards them but “sadly at the end of that there was very little moving forward.”  He added that Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny had refused to meet them, and they “weren’t overly impressed” by justice minister Alan Shatter “who kept us waiting for an hour and a half.”

Stanley McCombe, whose wife died in the bombing, said that Ms Villiers and Mr Shatter “should be absolutely ashamed of themselves.”

With no substantive response from either government, Mr Gallagher said, the campaign group is to seek a judicial review in courts in Northern Ireland, and possibly also in Dublin.

According to Mr Gallagher: “We feel we have no choice but to go to court. The governments are closing their ears. They’re not listening to what we have to say.”

Bomb plot: Police failures

The families’ claims:

* The families of Omagh’s victims have claimed that had police and intelligence officials pulled together three strands of evidence from an anonymous tip-off and two more trusted informants they could have foiled the attack.

The families claimed that a build-up of security in Omagh would have deterred the attack.

A government-ordered review of what the intelligence agencies knew said that an attack could not have been foiled.

* A solicitor acting on behalf of one of the families said that he received an indication from senior police that the car used for the bombing may have been the target of tracking before it reached Omagh.

The authorities have always denied that the car had been watched in the run-up to the attack.

* A senior Irish police officer allegedly failed to pass information to his counterparts in Northern Ireland that suggested dissident republicans were trying to get a vehicle for the bombing. The report’s claim, understood to be based on interviews, previous reports and searches of police files, has been previously rejected by the Irish government.

* Emails provided by American trucker-turned-spy David Rupert provided material that pointed to a likely terrorist attack and potential targets but were not acted on, and not passed swiftly to police.

The families claim this information  could have resulted in the arrests and prosecutions of those behind the attacks.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'