Northern Ireland news

Mother of Omagh bombing victim to return to Ireland for first time since his death

James Barker was among the victims of the Omagh bombing in August 1998

THE mother of a schoolboy killed in the Omagh bombing will this weekend visit Ireland for the first time since his death.

Donna Maria Barker had vowed never to return after her son James (12) lost his life in the August 1998 atrocity.

But on Sunday, Ms Barker is due to travel to Fivemiletown Methodist Church to dedicate a patch of a memorial quilt in his name.

Speaking ahead of the South East Fermanagh Foundation's annual service, she said she knows it will be "painful to come back... but it is for James".

The schoolboy was one of 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, who died in Omagh.

He had been in the Co Tyrone town with Spanish friends, who were on an exchange visit, when the Real IRA bomb exploded.

Soon after his death, Ms Barker, who is originally from Derry, returned to Surrey where they had lived prior to the attack.

She said she never thought she would be able to return to Ireland, but will travel to attend the service where the theme this year is 'Children of the Troubles'.

"It will be painful to come back," she told the News Letter.

"Yes, very painful. But it is for James, isn't it?"

Ms Barker also said that despite the passage of time, her grief remains.

"My life is gone... I can't go forward. He was my son, I carried him for nine months".

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