The husband of a woman who died in the Omagh atrocity disrupted the launch of a renewed Belfast-Dublin effort to track down the bombers by accusing the authorities of a cover-up over the explosion.
Lawrence Rush, whose wife, Libby, died in the Real IRA blast on 15 August 1998, intervened yesterday in a joint press conference called by the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the Irish Garda to appeal for fresh help in catching the killers.
He claimed there was a conspiracy around the bombing, which he branded an example of "administrative terrorism". Mr Rush pointed to the closure of a Sinn Fein office the day before the bombing, the confinement of troops to barracks on the day and suggestions that intelligence reports warned of an attack that day. He said Irish police had names of 52 suspects and the RUC had 72.
Twenty-nine people – including a woman pregnant with twins – died and more than 200 were injured when a car bomb ripped through Omagh town centre. Superintendent James Baxter, of the RUC, insisted his officers were determined to convict the bombers.
Hundreds of people, including the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, John Reid, attended a third anniversary remembrance service at the scene of the explosion.
Meanwhile, Unionists claimed that three alleged IRA men held in Colombia after visiting the Farc guerrilla group were arranging to take a consignment of bomb-making material.Peter Robinson, the Democratic Unionist Party deputy leader, said: "This revolutionary new form of explosive is greater than has ever before been faced."
Security forces claimed last night one of the men arrested in Colombia was Sinn Fein's Cuban link and was involved in arranging a visit by Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein president, to South America next month. Niall Connolly, 36, a Dubliner, had been the republican movement's contact on the Marxist-controlled Caribbean island since 1996, it was claimed.
But Sinn Fein said none of the three was a member of its party. Its chief whip, Alex Maskey, accused the media of "trying and convicting" the men before the facts had emerged.Reuse content