MPs call for Omagh bomb review

Fresh investigation is needed into claims vital intelligence was withheld from police, says parliamentary group

far too many questions remain unanswered about the actions of the intelligence services around the Omagh bombing, the head of the Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee said yesterday.

Sir Patrick Cormack also criticised the Government for allowing him access only to an edited version of a report from an inquiry into claims that the intelligence services had not shared information on the suspects with police.

The committee called for a fresh investigation into the performance of intelligence agencies after looking at a review carried out by the Intelligence Services Commissioner, Sir Peter Gibson.

The Gibson inquiry was set up by Gordon Brown in the wake of a BBC Panorama programme which delved into the question of whether intelligence on the bombing in Omagh, on 15 August 1998, was properly shared. The Real IRA attack, in which 29 people died, including a woman pregnant with twins, has been the subject of numerous legal proceedings and police inquiries but no one has been successfully prosecuted for the murders.

The Gibson inquiry was critical of the Panorama programme, which claimed the Government's listening station GCHQ had monitored suspects' mobile phone calls as they drove to Omagh from the Irish Republic on the day of the atrocity. Panorama said the information was never passed to Royal Ulster Constabulary detectives assigned to the case. The BBC and its reporter John Ware have defended their story.

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee said Sir Patrick should be shown the full Gibson report rather than a heavily edited version. But the Prime Minister's spokesman said yesterday that when national security was involved only a limited number of people could have access to sensitive information. The spokesman said the report had been seen by the chairman of the UK Intelligence and Security Committee, Kim Howells.

Sir Patrick said: "It is quite wrong that a lot of people – civil servants, police officers below the rank of chief constable, and others – should see this and I should be denied it, because within that report may be some of the answers we are seeking."

Michael Gallagher, whose 21-year-old son Aiden was killed in the attack, said the Government's position was not acceptable, repeating the long-standing demand of bereaved families for a full public inquiry into the bombing. "I think the honest average man in the street will always say there must be a reason, other than the reason that it could give an advantage to terrorists.

"Sir Patrick wasn't going to give any advantage to a terrorist, so there's not much left for families to believe other than that the Government has something there that's going to embarrass them and they don't want to disclose it to the families."

Last year the Omagh families won a civil case in Belfast, a judge ruling that four prominent republicans were liable for the deaths of the 29 people killed. An award of more than £1.6m was made. This was, however, one of the few legal successes in the Omagh saga. One defendant from south Armagh was cleared of charges of multiple murder.

Another man, Colm Murphy, 57, was sentenced to 14 years in jail in connection with the attack but was last month cleared following a re-trial. He was one of those named in the civil case.

A number of men suspected of having a hand in the Omagh bombing have been jailed for offences unconnected with the attack. Michael McKevitt, who headed the Real IRA at the time of the attack, is serving a lengthy jail sentence in the Irish Republic. He was convicted of directing terrorism but not with any specifically Omagh-related offence.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Life and Style
Researchers found that just 10 one-minute swill-and-spit sessions are enough to soften tooth enamel and make teeth vulnerable to erosion
health
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Regent Street Cinema’s projection room in the 1920s
film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing