Republic of Ireland news

Omagh families say they will return to court if fresh investigation is not ordered

Michael Gallagher said the families have had no contact from either the British or Irish governments since a High Court judge last year recommended that a new probe should take place

The families of Omagh bomb victims will return to court if the UK Government does not commit to a fresh investigation into the Real IRA atrocity, a campaigner has said.

Michael Gallagher, who lost his 21-year-old son Aiden in the 1998 bombing, said the families have had no contact from either the British or Irish governments since a High Court judge last year recommended that a new probe should take place.

Mr Gallagher was speaking after meetings on Monday at Stormont with the leaders of the DUP and TUV, who committed their support to an Article 2 compliant investigation into Omagh.

In a High Court judgment last October Mr Justice Horner directly recommended that the UK Government carry out a human rights-compliant investigation into alleged security failings in the lead-up to the August 1998 attack.

His ruling came following a legal challenge against the British government’s refusal to hold a public inquiry into the Real IRA atrocity, which killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins.

While having no jurisdiction to order the Dublin government to act on the matter, the judge also urged authorities there to establish their own probe in light of his findings.

Speaking following a meeting with Omagh families, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said: “The judge recommended an Article 2 compliant investigation into the Omagh case.

“I have consulted within our party and we have come to the view that we support the families’ call and the recommendation.

“There should also be an investigation within the Irish Republic, where there are many questions to be answered.”

Mr Gallagher said: “All of the parties in Northern Ireland are now on board with the call for an Article 2 compliant investigation into Omagh.

“We have already written to the Secretary of State (Brandon Lewis) informing him that if he is not willing to meet us and discuss the way forward, that we will end up back in court seeking another judicial review.

“Since the judgment was made on October 8 and shortly after that we wrote to the Secretary of State and to the Taoiseach (Micheal Martin) requesting a meeting to try and navigate a way forward.

“We have had absolutely no response from either government.

“It seems that they need to be dragged kicking and screaming to the courthouse doors.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: “The Omagh bomb was a terrible atrocity and caused untold damage to the families of the 29 people who were tragically killed and the 220 who were injured. The reverberations were felt not just in Northern Ireland, but across the world.

“We are taking time to consider the judgment and all its recommendations carefully before making a decision on next steps.”

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