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Another setback for Omagh families searching for justice

Yesterday was yet another bitterly disappointing day for the families of those killed in the Omagh bombing in August 1998 as the case against Seamus Daly collapsed before it even reached the Crown Court.

A pre-trial hearing began last week at Omagh Magistrates Court to establish if there was sufficient evidence for the case to proceed to trial.

However, the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) took the decision to drop the case after inconsistencies emerged in the evidence of a key prosecution witness, Kilkenny builder Denis O'Connor.

The PPS said the director, Barra McGrory, concluded the available evidence no longer provided a reasonable prospect of a conviction and consequently the prosecution could not be continued.

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aiden died in the atrocity, said the PPS had no other option given the inconsistent testimony but questioned why these issues had not been identified at an earlier stage.

There is no doubt that this has been yet another blow for the families on top of so many other setbacks.

After 18 years and a difficult journey through the justice system, it seems very unlikely that anyone will be convicted and jailed for the murder of 29 people and unborn twins on that terrible day.

As Mr Gallagher pointed out, the Omagh families had the intervention of the British prime minister, the taoiseach and the US president and still there has been no justice.

So many other victims of the Troubles had no such high-powered support and they too are facing the same hurdles and frustrations in getting to the truth.

It is feared this latest case may now have implications for the civil action which ordered Daly and three others to pay £1.6 million in damages to the bereaved.

The families, already let down so many times, may now face further disappointment.

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