Relatives of the Omagh bomb victims are launching a legal action in a bid to force the Dublin and London governments into granting a full cross-border inquiry into the horror.
They said they had unearthed information which was “likely to embarrass” both governments, but that “the public interest in knowing the truth of what occurred prior to, at the time of and beyond the Omagh bomb is of greater need.”
They are planning High Court applications in Belfast and Dublin seeking leave to apply for a judicial review.
The announcement followed a meeting with the British Direct Ruler Theresa Villiers.
Outside Hillsborough Castle, Michael Gallagher -- whose son Aiden was killed in the attack -- said: “We’re tired of waiting for a decision. We could go on like this for the next 10, 20 years. We’ve been left with no choice but to go down the legal route.”
Last summer copies of a confidential report -- specially commissioned by the families to review all the various police investigations -- were handed over to the 26 County justice minister Alan Shatter and the then Direct Ruler Owen Paterson.
No details of the report were released, but it is understood the 60-page document claims significant state involvement before, during and after the bomb exploded in Omagh’s Market Street in August 1998, killing 29 people, including a mother pregnant with twins. The bomb was blamed on the breakaway ‘Real IRA’, but it later emerged the device had been carefully tracked to its destination by police on both sides of the border.
The families’ report said it had discovered new email evidence detailing related activities in the 26 Counties but which were never shared with investigators in the Six Counties. The emails are said to be linked to claims of two connected bomb attacks which were allowed to go ahead undetected in order to protect the identity of an informer.
Ms Villiers admitted she had what she described as a “significant insight” of the issues involved, but there was no indication from her of support for the cross-border inquiry, Mr Gallagher said.
“We were able to articulate to [Villiers] the grave issues of concern that are contained in the report,” he said.
“We acknowledged that many issues are likely to embarrass both governments. The public interest in knowing the truth of what occurred prior to, at the time of and beyond the Omagh bomb is of greater need.”
A British official said Villiers “hopes to make her decision very soon, once she has consulted all those with an interest.”