Omagh victims blast Nally 'whitewash'

Relatives of the Omagh bomb victims today branded the report by the 26-County government into the atrocity a ``whitewash'' at a meeting with the Prime Minister, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

Today, the Omagh Self Help Group met the Taoiseach collectively for the first time to call for a full independent public inquiry into the 1998 bombing.

They highlighted the contrast between Dublin's support for the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday and their failure to establish a powerful tribunal to investigate events surrounding the bombing.

The campaigners are not satisfied with the unpublished Nally report into the atrocity, which was carried out by retired civil servant Dermot Nally.

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan was killed in the 1998 explosion, read Mr Ahern an extract from a Dublin Government document that was influential in persuading the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to set up the Saville Inquiry.

The paragraph Mr Gallagher read to the Taoiseach said: ``The terms and powers of any new inquiry would need to be such as to inspire widespread public confidence, that it would have access to all the relevant official material and otherwise enjoy full support and co-operation, that it would operate independently, that it would investigate thoroughly and comprehensively, and would genuinely and impartially seek to establish what happened on Bloody Sunday, why it happened and those who must bear the responsibility for it.''

``I am reminding Bertie Ahern of the final paragraph of the Irish Government report presented to the British Government in 1997, supporting an inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday,'' said Mr Gallagher.

``I am saying: 'Surely you would want nothing less for the families of Omagh?'''

Mr Gallagher later told reporters that ``other possibilities'' existed.

He added: ``We have asked the Taoiseach to consider a number of options to bring more clarity to what happened, both before and after Omagh - whether it be a full public inquiry, whether we go down the route of the Hutton report that investigated the death of the scientist David Kelly.

``What we have asked most importantly is that families are consulted, and brought along in this process. We don't want to wake up some morning and find the Government saying this is what we are going to do, and then we just follow suit.''

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