Liam Campbell: Omagh bomb victim's father accepts SDLP apology

The Omagh bomb killed 29 people including a woman pregnant with twins Image copyright PACEMAKER
Image caption The Omagh bomb killed 29 people including a woman pregnant with twins

A man who lost his son in the Omagh bomb has accepted an SDLP apology over a council vote to oppose the extradition of a man held liable.

A Fermanagh and Omagh Council committee voted to oppose the extradition of Liam Campbell on Wednesday.

It was opposed by unionists but passed with support from the SDLP, Sinn Féin and others.

Michael Gallagher, who lost his son Aiden in the bomb, said it was "sad" the vote had "caught people off guard".

He said he had received the apology from Daniel McCrossan, the party's West Tyrone assembly member on Thursday.

The motion was "senseless" and "designed to cause division within the community", Mr Gallagher added.

Liam Campbell is wanted in Lithuania over allegations he was part of an operation to buy guns and bombs for the Real IRA.

Image caption In 2009, Michael McKevitt, Liam Campbell, Colm Murphy and Seamus Daly were found responsible for the bombing in a landmark civil trial

In June 2009, he was found liable, along with convicted Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt, for the 1998 Omagh bombing.

That verdict followed a landmark civil action brought by relatives of some of those killed in the atrocity.

The Omagh bomb is the worst single atrocity during almost 30 years of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

No-one has ever been convicted of the dissident republican attack, that killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins.

'Didn't realise who he was'

Mr Gallagher said Mr McCrossan "apologised profusely" during their telephone conversation.

"I think you just have to accept the facts as they were," Mr Gallagher told BBC Radio Foyle.

"Unbelievably, as they were, that people could make a decision or vote in favour of a motion without fully understanding the detail or in this case the background, or indeed in this case ask about the background of the individual," he said.

Mr McCrossan told BBC Radio Foyle "it was a mistake that was recognised and we moved to apologise very quickly".

He said his party colleagues on Fermanagh and Omagh Council were of a "younger generation".

"They didn't actually realise who Liam Campbell was, that's an unfortunate reality," he said.

On Thursday SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the party "was wrong" and would reverse its decision to back the motion.

Mr Gallagher said it was a matter of regret that Sinn Féin, who also backed the motion, had not made contact with him.

In a statement Sinn Féin said its group on the council "was of the view that the human rights concerns raised at last night's meeting merited discussion by the full council and supported the motion on that basis".

It added: "Sinn Féin will ensure that the concerns and needs of the victims of the Omagh bombing are also reflected in that debate".

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