Queen alters schedule to visit Omagh bombing site

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Indy Politics

The Queen visited the site of the 1998 bombing of Omagh in Co Tyrone yesterday, making a last-minute change of plan to see it during her three-day visit to Northern Ireland.

The decision followed complaints from a number of sources, including some of the relatives of the 29 people killed in the Real IRA attack.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were generally well-received during a busy round of engagements across Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein representatives stayed away from the royal events, though other nationalists attended some occasions.

Under the original schedule, the Queen and the Duke had apparently planned to visit the library in Omagh but not to stop at the point where the bomb exploded at Market Street, several hundred yards away. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, John Reid, showed them where the bomb had gone off, pointing out reconstruction work that has taken place.

Michael Gallagher, whose son died in the bombing, said he had contacted the Northern Ireland Office just before the Queen arrived in the town. "I let them know I was not very happy ... It would have thrown some sort of shadow over this visit if she hadn't gone to the bomb site," he said.

* The authorities in Belfast are nervous that the release of the loyalist paramilitary boss Johnny "Mad Dog" Adair, who was let out of prison yesterday, might worsen matters in the city's north, where rioting has been frequent in recent months.

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