14 years for Omagh bomb plotter

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The Independent Online

Colm Murphy was today jailed for 14 years at Dublin's Special Criminal Court for conspiring to cause the Omagh bombing.

The 49–year–old publican from Dundalk, County Louth, was sentenced after being found guilty on Tuesday of playing a role in the worst single act of killing in Northern Ireland's troubles.

Mr Justice Robert Barr, presiding, said: "The accused is a long–time Republican extremist and member of a dissident group opposed to the peace agreement of Northern Ireland."

He added: "That those who planted the bomb and Murphy as a back–up or service provider must have realised that the operation to plant the bomb was fraught with danger and risked death and injury to many."

A woman heavily pregnant with twins was among 29 people who died when the Real IRA bomb tore through the County Tyrone market town on August 15 1998. More than 300 people were injured.

But Murphy through his defence counsel, Michael O'Higgins, maintained his innocence claiming to be a victim of a miscarriage of justice.

As the sentence was delivered, a number of relatives of those who perished in the blast stood and applauded.

Mr Justice Barr went on: "Anyone who participated in conspiracy relating to a major atrocity which may have appalling consequences to many is guilty of a serious crime."

He said that there were "significant distinctions between the executors of the Omagh bomb and those who had played a back–up role such as Murphy".

But he added: "Taking into account all of the factors to which the court has referred, it sentences the accused to a term of imprisonment of 14 years."

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