New evidence of Omagh cover-up
New evidence of Omagh cover-up

Fresh evidence that state forces allowed the 1998 Omagh bombing to proceed -- and later took part in a cover-up -- has been revealed by a new independent inquiry.

Bereaved families who commissioned the report said they have proof that police on both sides of the Border were involved in a live operation on the day of the attack and could have prevented it.

Twenty-nine people were killed on August 15th 1998 after telephoned bomb warnings failed to clear the area around the bomb in the centre of the town. Despite having foreknowledge of the attack, both the 26-County Garda police and the PSNI (then RUC) police have always claimed that their information was insufficient to prevent the tragedy.

The blame heaped on the breakaway Real IRA as a result of the loss of life forced the organisation to call a ceasefire and undermined popular support for the armed struggle in the North of Ireland.

A report by then Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan, published in 2001, strongly criticised the RUC over its subsequent investigation. Her report stated that RUC had ignored several warnings about the bomb and had failed to act on crucial intelligence. She also said that senior members of the RUC had been uncooperative and defensive during her inquiry.

It later emerged that at least one of those involved in planning the attack was an informer, and that British agents had eavesdropped and tracked the Real IRA group as it transported the device across the border to its destination.

Many believe that the atrocity was planned for the purpose of destroying support for the Real IRA, and have drawn comparisons with the Dublin and Monaghan attacks of 1974.

Family campaigners have had their calls for a cross-border inquiry repeatedly ignored by the authorities on both sides of the border.

Relatives who commissioned the new report met British Direct Ruler Owen Paterson in Belfast today ahead of presenting the final version to the British government next month.

Michael Gallagher, whose 21-year-old son Aiden died in the attack, said the meeting was “hot and heavy”.

“We told him we have evidence that there was a live police operation going on on August 15th that could have intercepted the bombers,” he said.

“This is new evidence that hasn’t been made public before.”

He added: “We also have evidence that public officials lied to the general public about the Omagh bombing.

“We will be producing all of that evidence to him on June 18th.”

Mr Gallagher said he would not be outlining full details of the evidence uncovered until the report had been passed to the British government.

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