Pressure is growing today for a public inquiry into the Omagh bombing after it was revealed British intelligence chiefs were listening in to the Real IRA’s mobile phone calls on the day of the attack.
The bombing in the centre of Omagh on August 15 1998 killed 29 people after warning calls failed to clear the area around the site where the bomb was planted.
Now a new documentary has revealed that recordings of mobile calls made by those who planted the bomb were not passed to subsequent investigations.
The new allegations that Britain’s electronic intelligence agency GCHQ listened into the bombers’ conversations comes shortly after the tenth anniversary of the bombing and has sparked fresh calls from bereaved relatives for a full inquiry.
The attack is widely believed to have been allowed to proceed in order the disgrace the breakaway IRA group with multiple civilian casualties.
Although no-one has been convicted of the bombing, a number of senior police officers have been accused of perjury.
The BBC’s Panorama programme will tomorrow broadcast its finding that calls made by bombers from the anti-peace process ‘Real IRA’ group were monitored and recorded as they drove into the Co Tyrone town.
Relatives who have had early access to the programme’s research insisted the British government must now grant their long-standing demands for a full inquiry.
Panorama investigators have found that GCHQ was monitoring the bombers’ phones that day, a claim confirmed by Ray White, former assistant RUC/PSNI chief constable in charge of crime.
Mr White told Panorama that the PSNI Special Branch officer responsible for requesting GCHQ’s assistance had confirmed that live audio monitoring of the attackers’ calls had been ordered on the day of the attack.
Michael Gallagher, who’s son was killed in the bombing and who now chairs the Omagh Support and Self Help Group, said: “We have been demanding a public inquiry since 2002 into the abysmal failure of the police inquiries. In all conscience the Government can no longer resist this.”
Reacting to the news today, the North’s former police ombudsman, Nuala O’Loan, said out that, with information on the bomb’s target, British forces could have easily intercepted the attack.
“Roadblocks in the past have had the effect of deterring people who would have planted bombs. They would have seen this and would have just abandoned the bombs by the roadside.”
British Labour MP Andrew Mackinlay, a member of the London parliament’s foreign affairs select committee, said the revelations needed to be “thoroughly investigated”. He dismissed the role of the secretive ‘intelligence and security committee’ which is supposed to monitor MI5’s deniable covert operations or “black-ops”.
“Its existence simply will not be sufficient to assuage grieving relatives, nor the public, that we were well served by our security services in this incident.”