A listening bug may have been placed inside the Vauxhall car that carried the Omagh bomb, according to a High Court document.
The suggestion that a government agency may have listened to the bombers on their way to the town is contained in a legal document submitted on behalf of the Omagh relatives.
Warning calls failed to clear around the bomb, which exploded in the town’s commercial centre in August 1998, killing 29 civilians and two unborn children.
The resulting outcry caused the ‘Real IRA’, which planted the bomb, to call a ceasefire. Speculation has continued that British forces may have allowed the device to detonate for their own strategic purposes.
It has since emerged that the mobile phones used by the ‘Real IRA’ members on the day of the attack were being monitored by British military intelligence. It has now been claimed that the vehicle itself was bugged.
The Omagh families have called for the release of “a recording or recordings made of transmissions from a covert listening device placed in the maroon Vauxhall Cavalier car used to house the bomb transported to Omagh on 15th August 1998, together with transcripts and notes relating to that recording”.
The affidavit says the basis for the suggestion that the car itself had been fitted with a listening device is a conversation with Panorama documentaty reporter John Ware.
Ware’s inquiries revealed that some individuals in the relevant authorities had read transcripts that included telephone conversations of the bombers in the car that were one-sided.
Those conversations stopped at the time the bomb detonated. The allegation was not contained in Ware’s programme, broadcast last September, because it could not be confirmed at the time.
Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan was killed in the explosion, said the suggestion that the vehicle had been fitted with a listening device by a state agency was devastating.
“You know, every month or two something emerges about Omagh which increases the suspicions that the security services knew about either the plan to bomb Omagh or the people involved before they set off.
“This is another startling point that can only be properly addressed in a cross border inquiry. John’s reports are absolutely credible so if someone did indicate this to him I would say there was substance to it.
“If there was a bug attached to the bomb car who put it there, MI5, the Garda, who?
“That’s just another of the many questions that now have to be answered”, he said.
RUPERT SOUGHT $2m
Meanwhile, the Omagh bombing civil action has also heard than FBI spy David Rupert asked for $2 million to testify at the trial of ‘Real IRA’ leader Michael McKevitt.
Rupert played a key role in securing Mr McKevitt’s conviction for “directing terrorism” after he gave evidence at the 2003 trial in Dublin.
US security service papers reveal the trucking boss described himself as a “whore” to his handlers with a purely financial motivation for infiltrating republican ranks.
Lawyers for Mr McKevitt also accused Mr Rupert of continually lying under oath and said the authorities were complicit with him in manipulating the truth.
The dossier of papers document Rupert’s apparent knowledge of smuggling operations in North America, but failed to include questions or discussions regarding any criminal activity that Rupert had engaged in.