Northern Ireland news

Husband of Omagh bomb victim adds plaque to memorial blaming `dissident republican terrorists'

Kevin Skelton, who lost his wife Philomena in the Omagh bomb, has placed a plaque stating it was carried out by "dissident republican terrorists" on a memorial at the site of the attack. Picture by Cliff Donaldson

THE husband of a woman killed in the Omagh bombing has glued a plaque to a memorial at the site of the atrocity stating that it was a "dissident republican terrorist" car bomb.

Kevin Skelton, whose wife Philomena died in the 1998 attack which killed 29 people including a woman pregnant with twins, said he took the action two days after Christmas to ensure relatives of those killed "get the truth".

"I did it in broad daylight. I don't hide behind hedges like the people who did the bombing," he said.

"We have been crying about this for a long, long time and they keep fobbing us off. There is a plaque up that says it was a terror attack - it could be Islamic State, it could be the UDA, it could be anything.

"There's not a word on (the new) plaque that's not the truth. The families didn't get justice for Omagh, but I think we could get the truth."

Read More: Nuala O'Loan says Omagh bomb could have been prevented

Mr Skelton will attend a meeting tonight of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council to hear if political representatives will order the removal of the plaque.

It states: "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".

Kevin Skelton, who lost his wife Philomena in the Omagh bomb, has placed a plaque in memory of the victims on a glass memorial in the town centre. Picture by Cliff Donaldson 

A decision by the former Omagh District Council not to include similar wording on the Market Street memorial caused controversy and led to the appointment of an independent fact-finding group.

The words do feature in a nearby memorial garden, but the council decided they would not be put on an installation at the bomb site itself.

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

Mr Skelton, who stuck the plaque to the stone plinth with glue and sealed it with silicone on December 27, did not publicise what he had done but was happy to reveal he was responsible when the Tyrone Herald picked up the story.

Independent councillor Sorcha McAnespy said the memorial had been designed so that "when the sun hits the prism at a certain angle a shaft of light is directed to the remembrance garden" where the council's explanatory plaque is placed.

She said the design was chosen because a "message of hope" was wanted, but added: "We will never, ever forget what happened."

Omagh Bomb Memorial located on Market Street Omagh on the spot were the car bomb exploded on 15 August 1998. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire 

Ms McAnespy said there had been consultation previously with families and there is likely to be a debate in the council chamber tonight, with views of all the families sought.

"Obviously you just can't go around erecting things willy-nilly, but if everybody's happy enough and it isn't hurting or harming anybody that will be considered."

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