PSNI police chief Hugh Orde has dodged questions put to him at a meeting of the North’s Policing Board about the 1998 Omagh bombing.
Speaking at the meeting, Orde said that British military intelligence (MI5) did not withhold information that could have revealed the truth behind the bombing by the breakaway ‘Real IRA’ in August 1998.
But Orde did not contradict a comment by Omagh families’ representative Michael Gallagher last week that important MI5 information was not acted on by the RUC’s Special Branch in the months before the bombing.
The intelligence was provided by David Rupert, the FBI agent whose testimony at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin in 2003 was used to jail Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt for 20 years. It has been known for some time that other intelligence, received from anonymous callers and from agents within the 26 Counties, was also ignored.
There have been persistent suggestions that elements within the British Crown forces allowed the bombing to go ahead for their own military or political purposes.
Omagh bomb victims have called for talks with Orde over the latest revelations.
Meanwhile, the defence team for a South Armagh man accused of making the Omagh bomb say they will call Rupert as a defence witness to prove their client’s innocence.
Sean Hoey denies charges that he made a series of bombs for the ‘Real IRA’, including the Omagh device.
Hoey’s solicitors say they want to interview Rupert over claims he identified the Real IRA’s chief bomb makers to his handlers at that time.
It is understood the electrician was not among those named by the FBI agent as the Real IRA’s bombmakers.
Solicitor Peter Corrigan said: “We believe Mr Rupert may have passed on material to the intelligence services which can prove that my client was not involved in the making of the TPUs [timer power units] used by the Real IRA at the time of the Omagh bomb.”
Mr Hoey’s trial is not expected to begin until October.
Meanwhile, relatives of those killed in the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings have welcomed an announcement of “significant advances” made by the man investigating the murders.
British forces are believed to have colluded in the bombings for reasons which have never been revealed.
Barrister Patrick MacEntee has said he has received new security information on the bombings. The information is believed to have come from British intelligence.
The Dublin government has now extended the deadline for the submission of his report on the killings until the end of May, allowing him more time to pursue this new line of inquiry.