‘The governments just want to bury the terrible truth’
‘We are civilised people who want to be heard’
A CONFIDENTIAL report on the Omagh bombing contains ‘hugely embarrassing’ and sensitive information which, if publicly released, ‘could put further lives at risk’.
The damning report was presented to the Irish and British Governments in 2012. However – despite containing sensitive information on how the governments handled information about the attack – relatives of those killed in the bomb are still ‘in limbo’.
The Omagh group said that, after more than a year in office, Leo Varadkar has yet to meet with them to discuss their report and ‘seek the truth’. They also expressed disappointment that the Taoiseach will not attend two memorial services in Omagh, in the coming days.
Michael Gallagher, 69, whose son Aidan, 21, was killed in Omagh nearly two decades ago, said their pleas to the Taoiseach to meet with the Omagh Support and Self-Help Group to discuss the report – handed over to his predecessor Enda Kenny six years ago – have fallen on deaf ears.
After numerous arrests, collapsed criminal trials, civil action and repeated calls for a cross-border public inquiry, no one has been convicted for the 500lb blast that ripped through the market town in Co. Tyrone, killing 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins.
Mr Gallagher told the Irish Mail on Sunday that words cannot convey the group’s ‘disappointment’ at the Taoiseach’s absence at two memorial events and his ‘failure to engage with survivors’.
‘We have given up on justice at this stage – we just want the truth. But the governments seem to want to bury Omagh, and we can’t allow that to happen,’ said Mr Gallagher.
‘Maybe we have gotten it wrong [in our report] but let’s meet and discuss this. I am not a conspiracy theorist myself but if I was, Omagh would be a dream.
‘If Mr Varadkar is indisposed due to holiday plans, that is understandable, but there is no reason why he can’t pencil us in his diary at a later date. We have been left in limbo and we are civilised people who just want to be heard,’ he told the MoS.
Mr Gallagher said ‘a promise remains outstanding’ from the Irish State to discuss the contents of the Omagh group’s report. A commitment was given that the report would be discussed with all parties after criminal cases concluded but no meeting has been scheduled.
The Government has now told the MoS there will be no public inquiry into the bombing as no new evidence has emerged.
Meanwhile, a long-awaited legal challenge to the British government’s refusal to hold a public inquiry has been put back to February 2019.
The case, brought by Mr Gallagher, centres on claims that a range of intelligence from British security agents, MI5 and RUC officers could have been drawn together to prevent the bombing.
In Mr Varadkar’s absence, health minister Simon Harris will attend today’s Omagh memorial. The second event takes place on Wednesday, the 20th anniversary of the 1998 bombing.
A Goverment spokesperson told the MoS: ‘The Garda authorities remain ready and willing to pursue any new or credible evidence that might be brought forward that could advance the investigation.’
justice: Michael Gallagher has brought a legal challenge