Northern Ireland news

Police chief ‘profoundly regrets' lack of Omagh bomb conviction

Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris. Picture by Brian Lawless, Press Association 
David Young, Press Association

A POLICE commander has expressed profound regret that no one has yet been brought to justice for the Omagh bomb.

PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris said on Thursday he could not envisage any future prosecutions for the 1998 Real IRA outrage unless new evidence comes to light.

Mr Harris was reacting to the collapse of the case against convicted dissident republican Seamus Daly.

Daly walked free from prison after the prosecution for murdering 29 people in the Omagh attack was dramatically withdrawn on Tuesday.

Mr Harris told members of his oversight body, the Policing Board: "This is profoundly disappointing for us and our thoughts are with the families who obviously have been retraumatised and been severely disappointed by this result."

Daly (45) from Kilnasaggart Road, Jonesborough, Co Armagh, spent almost two years in custody on remand charged with the atrocity and a number of other terror offences.

The case against him was dropped before it ever reached trial after inconsistencies were exposed in the evidence of the prosecution's star witness.

Seven years ago, Daly was one of four men successfully sued for bombing the Co Tyrone market town when he was found liable for the attack in a landmark civil case taken by some of the bereaved families.

Daly, who has a previous conviction in the Irish Republic for membership of a dissident republican organisation, has always denied involvement in the attack.

No-one has ever been convicted of the murders in a criminal court.

In 2007, south Armagh electrician Sean Hoey, who was then 38 and from Jonesborough, was found not guilty of the 29 murders after a marathon trial at Belfast Crown Court.

Mr Harris gave his reaction to the latest development as he addressed the monthly meeting of the Policing Board in Belfast.

He was standing in for Chief Constable George Hamilton, who has suffered a family bereavement.

"From a police perspective this is a profoundly disappointing result and we feel very much for the families who obviously have been let down that another prosecution has, in effect, failed," said the deputy chief constable.

"We do profoundly regret that we have been unable to secure a conviction for the Omagh bomb so long after this event and those individuals and families of those who were killed obviously deserve justice and have yet to secure it."

He added: "We remain ready and willing to pursue new lines of enquiry should new information be forthcoming.

"As we have said before repeatedly there are people who know information about this who could come forward and could provide evidence and we would appeal to them to do so.

"This investigation is not closed, with new information it would reopen and we would pursue it with vigour. At this time there are no new lines of enquiry but without further assistance this matter is unlikely to advance any further."

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