Omagh bomb inquiry motion blocked
Omagh bomb inquiry motion blocked

An Assembly motion calling for full disclosure of information received by the British and Irish intelligence agencies about the 1998 Omagh bomb was rejected by the North’s two main unionist parties this week.

The motion was proposed by the Alliance Party and supported by Sinn Féin and the SDLP.

But the DUP claimed the Alliance motion failed to sufficiently condemn the Real IRA. An amendment, which called on the British government only to investigate the matter “in an open and transparent way in cooperation with the Irish government”, was passed after Sinn Féin abstained.

A recent Panorama television documentary revealed that British Crown forces were tapping the phones of the Real IRA unit and monitoring their movements on the day of the bombing.

Twenty-nine people died when telephoned warnings failed to clear the County Tyrone town’s commercial centre, which was the target of the attack.

Relatives of the Omagh bomb victims, seeking to gain access to secret recordings of the bombers’ calls, were angry that the tragedy was used to score political points in the Assembly this week.

Kevin Skelton, whose wife Philomena died in the August 15 1998 atrocity, said he was disgusted at the outcome.

“We went hoping for a full backing from everybody for the Alliance motion for a full cross-border pubic inquiry,” he said. Why [the DUP’s Tom Buchanan] made this amendment I don’t know. The only way we can find the truth to that is a public inquiry, but his amendment stopped that.

“That is what he wants because they don’t want a public inquiry. They don’t want the truth to come out as they know in their hearts that the British government is not going to release those tapes within three months. This was simply a political stunt.

“I was absolutely disgusted at what went on in Stormont on Tuesday.”

Mr Skelton also criticised Sinn Féin for abstaining from voting. “They might as well have been sitting over with the DUP on the opposite side of the house,” he said.

Godfrey Wilson, whose 15-year-old daughter Lorraine was among those killed in the explosion, claimed the British army may have been deliberately kept off the streets of Omagh on the day of the 1998 blast.

“There was the question of the government doing a deal and reducing policing on the streets, keeping the army within the barracks on the day,” Mr Wilson said.

“There are questions which need to be answered,” Mr Wilson said. “I have a 15-year-old in her grave.

“There were too many issues before the bomb and certainly too many issues after Omagh.”

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan was killed in the blast, last week accused the Dublin government of “spinelessness” over allegations that British intelligence chose not to intercept the Omagh bomb.

“If the Irish government had any backbone, it would be raising the matter with the British,” Gallagher said. “Three Irish citizens died in the bomb. Brian Cowen should be seeking an urgent meeting with the British prime minister and demanding answers.

“If China or Russia apparently failed to stop a bomb which killed British citizens, there would be an international crisis. The Irish government is shirking its responsibility.”

Gallagher said “something dodgy” happened in Omagh. “If it was just a cock-up, let them throw open the books and show us.”

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