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Omagh families could get justice ‘if science develops’


Thousands of exhibits from the Omagh bombing could be revisited if “technology and science develop”, according to Northern Ireland’s chief constable.

George Hamilton said families deserve to have the evidence reassessed, as no one has ever been criminally charged with the bombing.

He said: “I don’t think the full criminal justice deserts that these people should have will probably come their way.

“But if evidence emerges or if technology and science develops that means that we can exploit better the over 2,000 exhibits we have in this case then we’ll do that.

“We’ll do not just what’s required of us but we will do it enthusiastically. It’s the least the families and the relatives deserve.”

A memorial service was held for the 29 victims of the bombing
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A memorial service was held for the 29 victims of the bombing

The chief constable was speaking before a memorial service for the victims of the bombing, which happened on 15 August 1998.

Twenty-nine people were killed, including a woman pregnant with twins, when the 500lb car bomb tore through Omagh just four months after the Good Friday Agreement had been signed.

Inaccurate telephone warnings resulted in people being evacuated directly into the path of the blast.

The death toll was the highest from a single incident in 30 years of violence.

Police at the scene of the Omagh bombing
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Police at the scene of the Omagh bombing

The atrocity touched three nations – claiming the lives of three children from County Donegal in the Irish Republic and two Spanish tourists.

For the first time in the history of the conflict, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams publicly condemned an act of violence.

There has only been one conviction but it was quashed on appeal. The case against another man facing 29 murder charges collapsed.

In 2009, the families won a landmark £1.6m civil action against four defendants but have never received a penny of it.

The inter-denominational service took place in the town’s memorial garden, and included songs and readings from choirs.

One of those singing with the Omagh Community Youth Choir is Cara McGillion, the 17-year-old daughter of Donna Marie and Garry, who were left seriously injured in the attack.

The wrecked scene of the Omagh bombing
Image:
The wrecked scene of the Omagh bombing

Michael Gallagher, whose son was one of the victims, paid tribute to all those killed during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Mr Gallagher said Northern Ireland was facing its greatest challenges ahead.

He called on the political parties to seek agreement “so that we can move forward”.

More from Northern Ireland

“Working alone we can achieve very little but in collaborative ventures we can achieve a great deal,” he added.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was criticised for not attending the service, as was Secretary of State Karen Bradley.



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