Northern Ireland

Omagh bomb civil action case retrial delayed

Omagh bomb scene
Image caption Twenty-nine people, including a woman pregnant with twins, were killed in the Real IRA attack

The retrial of two men being sued over the Omagh bomb atrocity will not begin until next year.

A civil action brought against Colm Murphy and Seamus Daly has been delayed due to the illness of a defence lawyer.

They are defending an action brought by relatives of some of the 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, killed in the 1998 Real IRA attack.

They were ordered to face a retrial after their appeals against being held liable for the bombing were upheld.

Two other men found responsible in the initial landmark ruling, convicted Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt and fellow dissident republican Liam Campbell, failed to have the findings against them overturned.

The case, which is expected to last six weeks, was supposed to have started last month.

Mr Justice Gillen, who will hear the lawsuit, told lawyers at the High Court in Belfast the trial would begin on 14 January.

Dossier

Meanwhile, it was also disclosed in court on Tuesday that British and Irish government officials are studying a report into the bombing for any potential public interest immunity issues.

Lawyers for Murphy and Daly have launched a legal bid to gain access to the dossier commissioned by the Omagh Self-Help and Support Group.

The report, produced by a London legal consultancy firm as part of attempts to secure a public inquiry, examined all the inquiries and investigations to date on both sides of the border.

Although its findings have not been made public the Omagh families say it contains evidence that British and Irish authorities could have prevented the bombing.

It was presented to former Secretary of State Owen Paterson in June.

Compensation

Murphy and Daly's legal representatives want to see the contents as part of their defence.

The Omagh families are opposed to disclosure, claiming the report was compiled for a specific purpose and has only been accessed by senior government officials.

A disclosure application is due to take place in court later this month.

No-one has been successfully criminally convicted of the bombing which devastated the County Tyrone market town.

In June 2009 McKevitt, a convicted Real IRA leader serving a 20-year jail sentence; Campbell, a farmer from County Louth; Murphy, a Dundalk-based builder and publican; and Daly, from Cullaville, County Monaghan, were all found liable for the bombing in a civil ruling.

They were ordered to pay £1.6m in compensation.

But in July last year three judges in the Court of Appeal upheld the appeals of Murphy and Daly.

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