Northern Ireland news

Council to consider action over new plaque on Omagh bomb memorial

Kevin Skelton at the memorial in Omagh town centre
Rebecca Black, Press Association

A LOCAL council is set to consider whether it will take action over the addition of an unapproved plaque to a memorial to those killed and injured in the Omagh bombing.

Kevin Skelton, whose wife Philomena was one of the 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, killed in the 1998 blast, was responsible for adding the plaque.

The car bomb, which dissident republican group the Real IRA claimed responsibility for, was one of the worst atrocities of Northern Ireland's troubled past and sparked outrage both locally and internationally.

Mr Skelton afixed the bronze plaque to the bottom section of the glass memorial, which stands at the site of the bomb on the town's Market Street, to point out that dissident republicans had been responsible for the attack.

It reads: "In memory of 29 men, women, children and unborn twins who were brutally murdered and over 300 people injured by a dissident republican terrorist car bomb on the 15th August 1998, never forgotten".

Read More: Omagh bomb widower came close to taking own life in aftermath

Mr Skelton said he added the plaque because he wants the "full story" of the bomb to be known by visitors to the town and future generations.

He said he hoped it will remain at the monument, but if the plaque is removed, he would like it returned to him, adding that in those circumstances he would erect it at another location.

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council said the placing of the plaque was not authorised.

At a meeting of the council last night, the matter was raised briefly by chairman Howard Thornton of the Ulster Unionist Party.

He told fellow members that he has asked officers to prepare a report outlining "the full facts".

He said the report from the officers would come "in due course", and did not invite any further comment or debate from councillors.

Mr Skelton was not present at the meeting.

The placing of the plaque follows a dispute between the then Omagh District Council and the families of those killed in the blast over the wording on the monument, which was erected ahead of the 10th anniversary of the atrocity in 2008.

A memorial garden close to the site was also created at that stage.

Some councillors objected to the words "dissident republican" being included on the monument or in the garden.

An independent mediator was appointed to help the council and families reach agreement, but some of the families were left discontented when the monument was created.

It consists of a glass monument which includes a heart. A nearby plaque on a wall simply refers to an "act of terror".

Mr Skelton glued the plaque to the monument on December 27 in "broad daylight" and said he has not had any negative feedback about it.

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