Northern Ireland

Reaction to Omagh bomb inquiry decision

Omagh bomb scene
Image caption Twenty-nine people including a woman pregnant with twins were killed in the 1998 attack

Politicians have been reacting to the decision by the government not to hold a public inquiry into the 1998 Omagh bomb atrocity.

Twenty-nine people were murdered in the Real IRA attack.

NI Secretary Theresa Villiers said she did not believe there were grounds to justify a further inquiry beyond those that had already taken place.

Some families of those killed believe the full truth of the events around the bombing has never been revealed.

Shadow Secretary of State Vernon Coaker said he had the utmost sympathy for the families of the victims.

"The secretary of state has read and considered the evidence available to her, including those of previous inquiries and investigations," he said.

"She will have had access to confidential and classified information that I am not privy to. There is an ongoing inquiry by the police ombudsman which I hope can provide further information and address some of the serious concerns raised.

"I await the outcome of that investigation and hope it can help bring the families closer to the truth and justice they rightly demand and expect."

'Openness and truth'

DUP West Tyrone assembly member Thomas Buchanan said the focus must now be on getting prosecutions.

"With no public inquiry now to take place it is absolutely vital that proper resources and efforts are placed into bringing all those responsible for the bombing to justice for their crimes," he said.

"Success in this area would also be boosted by information forthcoming, particularly from republicans, about those who committed this atrocity."

SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell said the government's decision was a further disappointment for the families.

"The families of those who were killed and injured at Omagh deserve openness and truth about the circumstances that led to the devastating bombing, the aftermath and subsequent investigation," he said.

"Their struggle will not end until that truth is exposed. The SDLP are meeting with the secretary of state today and we intend to raise this issue with Ms Villiers.

"Vested interests of state organisations and terror groups must not be protected at the expense of the Omagh families."

Ulster Unionist West Tyrone assembly member Ross Hussey said "responsibility for the Omagh atrocity lies solely with the republican terrorists who chose to assemble a large bomb and drive it into a busy market town on a Saturday afternoon".

He added: "Now is the time for Sinn Fein and other republicans to step up to the mark and provide the information which will enable the police to arrest and charge those responsible for the murder or 29 people and unborn twins."

'Scandalous'

Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister said he was dismayed by the government's decision.

"Once again it seems that there is one rule for those cases championed by republicans and another for the countless victims of republican terrorism," he said.

"If 29 innocent people had been murdered on the UK mainland there would be no question of not having a public inquiry. It is nothing short of scandalous that the families of Omagh have been treated differently."

Stewart Dickson of the Alliance Party said: "The Omagh families have a right to know the full facts about the tragic events of 15 August 1998. They deserve to know the truth.

"There are still many unanswered questions surrounding the events that led up to that day. Many families and survivors are still suffering today as all the facts have yet to be released."

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