Northern Ireland news

Co Tyrone man who lost son in Omagh bombing 'enormously relieved' by council decision opposing extradition of Liam Campbell

Michael Gallagher said he is relieved by the decision

A CO Tyrone man who lost his son in the Omagh bombing has said he is "enormously relieved" by a council decision to reject a motion opposing the extradition of a man held liable for the atrocity.

Michael Gallager said it was a "great cross-community result" that saw councillors on Derry and Strabane District Council dismiss a motion to oppose Liam Campbell's extradition from the Republic to Lithuania, where he is wanted on international weapons trafficking charges.

At Fermanagh and Omagh District Council a similar motion was also reversed just weeks after nationalist backing of the proposal sparked anger among relatives of those killed.

The motion to halt council support for Campbell, who was found liable in a civil court in 2009 for the 1998 Real IRA atrocity along with three other men, passed with support from 29 councillors - six opposing it and one abstaining.

Instead, a counter motion passed calling for the extradition to proceed.

At Derry and Strabane council, independent councillor Gary Donnelly had brought forward the motion, but it failed to pass after it was rejected by SDLP, Alliance, DUP and UUP councillors.

Sinn Féin abstained after an attempt to amend the motion failed.

Campbell (58) was arrested in Dundalk in December 2016 on foot of a European Arrest Warrant issued by Lithuanian authorities for allegedly organised smuggling of weapons for the Real IRA between the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007.

The High Court in Dublin ordered Campbell's extradition following a lengthy legal battle, with a judge concluding there was no evidence he would be subjected to inhuman and degrading prison conditions.

Mr Gallagher, whose son Aiden (21) was among the 29 people, including unborn twins who died in the bombing, said he was "very grateful" that the decision to oppose Campbell's extradition had been rejected by councillors from both local authorities.

"We are enormously relieved," he said.

"We watched the Derry and Strabane meeting and believe it is a great result, especially seeing how strongly it was rejected by.

"We hope that this sends a strong message to other councils not to bring forward this type of motion in the future. I hope this gets the message out there.

"I think that this is great cross-community result and reflects the feelings that are out there about this.

"It is unbelievable and we are very thankful and grateful that the motion was rejected."

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