Northern Ireland news

Omagh victim's father 'regrettably' agrees with PPS decision

Michael Gallagher's son, Aiden, was one of 29 people killed in the 1998 blast.
Michael McHugh, PA

A victims' campaigner has said he agreed with the decision to drop the Omagh bomb trial.

Michael Gallagher's son, Aiden, was one of 29 people killed in the 1998 blast.

Mr Gallagher said: "This was a difficult case and hinged on the testimony of one individual and that one individual did not seem to be up to meeting the test needed to put someone behind bars.

"For that reason I agree with the decision, regrettably, that happened today.

"There was no other option for the Public Prosecution Service or the judge but to deliver the verdict that we have just heard."

Mr Gallagher has been the most prominent of those campaigning for justice for Omagh.

He has said his son, who was 21, remains in his thoughts every day, and has met ministers in Dublin, London and Belfast as part of a campaign for a public inquiry into one of the worst atrocities of the Troubles.

Mr Gallagher said it was obvious listening to prosecution star witness Denis O'Connor, a builder from Kilkenny in the Irish Republic who claimed he received a call from Seamus Daly around 20 minutes after the bomb detonated on August 15 1998, that the case was going nowhere.

"I think it should have been obvious a lot earlier than that."

He said he was trying to contain his anger and channel it positively into seeking the truth.

"We need some answers, we need to know what went so drastically wrong 18 years on - conviction after conviction has failed in Omagh and yet there is so much knowledge about Omagh."

He added: "If there is any decency in society, in the people that manage our state, they need to work together to get the truth to the families of what happened."

He said most families had given up on achieving justice.

"It will be difficult for all of them but also very difficult for all those other victims out there who are expecting answers."

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory, said: “I have great sympathy with the families affected by the Omagh bomb and share their disappointment that we are in a position where we are unable to  progress this prosecution.

“There is a shared determination by ourselves and police to take forward the prosecution of those responsible if any new evidence to support this becomes available. 

“I’m aware that arrangements were in place to keep the families informed of our decision-making. 

"As part of this, in order to be as open and transparent as possible, I offered to meet with anyone who wished to do so. I will be seeking now to arrange a meeting as soon as possible with those concerned”.

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