PSNI chief prom­ises to keep hunt­ing for the killers

Irish Independent - - News - Claire McNeilly

NORTH­ERN Ire­land’s top po­lice of­fi­cer has vowed to do all he can to bring those re­spon­si­ble for the Omagh bomb­ing to jus­tice.

Chief Con­sta­ble of the Po­lice Service of North­ern Ire­land, Ge­orge Hamil­ton, warned that as time goes by the chances of se­cur­ing a crim­i­nal jus­tice out­come “re­duces”.

He was speak­ing as rel­a­tives of those killed in the Real IRA bomb gath­ered to re­mem­ber their loved ones 20 years on.

An in­ter-de­nom­i­na­tional service took place at the Memo­rial Gar­den in the Co Ty­rone town ahead of the 20th an­niver­sary of the sin­gle worst atroc­ity of the Trou­bles, when 29 peo­ple, in­clud­ing a woman preg­nant with twins, were killed by a huge Real IRA car bomb which

had been parked on a busy street.

“It is a great re­gret to many of us that no-one has been suc­cess­fully pros­e­cuted in re­la­tion to the Omagh bomb­ing,” said the Chief Con­sta­ble, who is cur­rently be­ing sued by rel­a­tives of those who died for fail­ings within the force which they be­lieve al­lowed the per­pe­tra­tors to es­cape jus­tice.

He added: “In many re­spects that hasn’t been for a lack of try­ing. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion has been ac­tive over many years and, of course, five peo­ple have been found li­able through the civil court but to get to the thresh­old for a crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion we haven’t had that suc­cess yet and that is a cause of deep re­gret to me.”

He said that the po­lice will con­tinue to do all “we can within the law to gather ev­i­dence that brings those re­spon­si­ble for this hor­ri­ble atroc­ity to jus­tice. If there are ev­i­den­tial op­por­tu­ni­ties, we will grasp them with both hands.

“If there’s new sci­ence or tech­nol­ogy that al­low us to ex­ploit and har­vest more ev­i­dence from the ex­hibits that we al­ready col­lected, of course we will do all of that. We will not be found want­ing.

“It is also fair to say that as time goes by, the chances of a crim­i­nal jus­tice out­come re­duce. It’s im­por­tant to come and stand with this com­mu­nity, given the grief and trauma they have suf­fered over the past 20 years.

“There have been many dark days for them, there has been much frus­tra­tion around the lack of crim­i­nal jus­tice out­comes, I un­der­stand that.

“If we have op­por­tu­ni­ties, we will take them.”

Donna Marie McGil­lion (42), from Omagh, who was left se­ri­ously in­jured in the at­tack, de­scribed the memo­rial as an “emo­tional day”.

Mrs McGil­lion suf­fered 65pc third de­gree burns and was left in a coma for al­most seven weeks af­ter the blast.

She was due to marry her hus­band Garry a week af­ter the bomb, how­ever, the pair mar­ried some six months later.

The mother of two, whose daugh­ter Cara (16) sang in the choir at the event, said: “It’s an emo­tional day and first and fore­most my thoughts are with the fam­i­lies of the 31 as they will be find­ing it ex­tremely dif­fi­cult 20 years on.

“It’s a spe­cial day and a way to help us move for­ward but ul­ti­mately this is about the 31 who walked with us in the town that day and aren’t with us to­day.

“Re­mem­ber­ing this day is a per­sonal thing and peo­ple do what­ever it is they need to do. For me, I al­ways did my own thing. I did at­tend the an­niver­sary events for the first five years but it was very hard.

“So we’ve been do­ing our thing. There is never, ever a day where I don’t think about the 31 who aren’t here.

“I have two chil­dren who weren’t born when it hap­pened, but they cer­tainly live with it.

“I’m still go­ing for surgery and af­ter the bomb I had to wear a plas­tic mask over my face for four years,” he added.

‘I have two chil­dren who weren’t born when it hap­pened, but they live with it’

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