Northern Ireland news

Events announced to mark Omagh bombing 20th anniversary

Twenty nine people, including a mother pregnant with twins, were killed in the Real IRA Omagh bombing in 1998. Picture by Paul McErlane/PA Wire.
Seamus McKinney

THE 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing is to be marked by a bell tolling for each of the victims of the 1998 atrocity.

Details have been released of two events commemorating the Real IRA attack which killed 29 people, including Avril Monaghan (30) who was pregnant with twins.

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan was among the victims, said the annual remembrance service will be held at Omagh Memorial Garden on Sunday August 12, while the exact anniversary will be marked on Wednesday August 15.

He said: “It is a significant milestone for the community and those deeply affected. Communal prayer and solidarity is important not just for the victims and survivors of Omagh but as an expression of cohesion in a world that unfortunately is infused with violent extremism.”

The Omagh man said the actual anniversary would be marked by a public vigil of “remembrance and hope”.

“This short service which will be led by Omagh Churches Forum will be opened with a short prayer, followed by the ringing of a bell 32 times to reflect the 31 lives lost in Omagh and an additional ring in remembrance of all those who have and continue to lose their lives through such atrocities the world over.”

The bell will stop ringing at 3.10pm, the time the bomb exploded.

Other events will include a public art workshop in the week before the anniversary.

Further information about all anniversary events will be made available on the “Omagh 20thRemembrance” Facebook page.

Next month, a three-day judicial review is due to be heard in Belfast challenging the Secretary of State’s refusal to hold a public inquiry into the killings.

In 2002, Co Louth republican Colm Murphy was convicted of conspiracy in connection with the bombing and sentenced to 14 years in prison.

However, the conviction was quashed on appeal and no-one else has ever been found guilty in a criminal court in relation with the killings.

In 2008 – in an action backed by families of victims – a civil court found four men were liable for the 1998 bombing and should pay damages.

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