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Public Inquiry
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Press Conference
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Wed 07 August 2013
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PRESS RELEASE
30th July 2013
Omagh Support & Self Help Group is holding a press conference on
Thursday 8th August at 1pm at
Bridge Centre, 5A Holmview Avenue, Omagh.

A significant announcement regarding the families call for a full cross border public inquiry will be released. It is the 15th year since the Omagh bomb caused such devastation in our small town and yet so many questions remain unanswered.
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SUPPORT THE CALL FOR A PUBLIC INQUIRY
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Fri 03 August 2012
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You can show your support by following the link below and signing the e-petition direct to the British Government calling on them to institute a full cross-border public inquiry into the Omagh Bomb.
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http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/36266
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
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Tue 11 October 2011
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A CALL FOR A FULL CROSS BORDER PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO THE OMAGH BOMBING
We do not consider the Omagh Bomb to be part of the history of the Troubles. The bombing of Omagh happened in peacetime. The then Secretary of State Mo Mowlam stated that those responsible would not be given any special treatment under the Good Friday Agreement because the atrocity was carried out after the peace agreement was signed. Similarly the BradleyEames initiative Consultative Group on the Past has taken the Good Friday Agreement as the end limit for its definition of historical cases and has explicitly distinguished the Omagh Bomb from other atrocities falling within the period of the Troubles.
We believe the only way forward for the families of those murdered in Omagh is for the British and Irish Governments to grant a full cross border public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the Omagh Bomb.
This document has been produced to provide an overview of the atrocity identifying actions taken, as well as operational strengths weaknesses and failings.
The Omagh Bomb is an event which is unique in the history of our country murdering thirtyone innocent men women and children and injuring hundreds of others from three nations. The Omagh Bomb happened at a time when we were all looking to the future. Many families thanked God that they had survived the thirty years of the Troubles and had been largely untouched by terrorism. That illusion was shattered for many hundreds of innocent people on that sunny Saturday afternoon in August 1998. From that day many of us have made it part of our very reason for living to get the truth and establish the facts of what happened in Omagh on that day.
We have never been left in any doubt as to who was responsible for this wicked and evil act: the Real IRA. They proudly announced that an active service unit from their group had parked the explosive laden car in Market Street Omagh. Without providing proper warnings they returned over the border to safety before it exploded with horrific consequences. The innocent men women and children of Omagh, Buncrana and Madrid were left to pick up the pieces.
However there remain many unanswered questions about the circumstances surrounding the Omagh Bomb and in particular about how much intelligence was available to and how it was used by the British and Irish authorities.
It has emerged that MI5 and the FBI were jointly handling an informant in the Republic of Ireland who had infiltrated the dissident movement at a high level. In April 1998 four months before the Omagh Bomb the informant provided information that DerryLondonderry and Omagh were potential targets for car bomb attacks. Their agent also reported that the dissidents had decided to shorten the warning time of bomb attacks. The PSNI Assistant Chief Constable informed the Omagh families of this in February 2006. The PSNI had not learned of this source or the information he provided until January of that year. The Omagh Investigation Team was never provided with the information.
On the 4th August 1998 eleven days before the Omagh Bomb Omagh Police Station received an anonymous phone call warning that there was to be a terrorist attack in Omagh on the 15th August. Special Branch dismissed the phone call as unfounded. However, this was exactly what happened Omagh was the scene for a terrorist attack on the 15th August. Omagh Sub Divisional Commander was not informed about this call until two and a half years later. During the course of her investigation the then Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland Nuala OLoan found that the claims made in the 4th August phone call merited further investigation than they had been given and that there was reason to suspect links between republicanism and the individuals named in the call. The Serious Threat Book for the period of August 1998 in which such warnings would be recorded has inexplicably gone missing from Omagh PSNI Station and has yet to be recovered.
In September 2008 the BBC broadcast a current affairs programme entitled Panorama Omagh What the Police Were Never Told. In it it was claimed that GCHQ had been monitoring and recording the voices of members of the bomb team as they drove five hundred pounds of explosives towards Omagh on 15th August 1998. Within thirtysix hours of the broadcast the Prime Minister Gordon Brown ordered a review of intelligence intercepts. Sir Peter Gibson, Intelligence Services Commissioner was appointed to head the review. The families approached Sir Gibson making themselves available and requesting the terms of reference. No response was ever received from Sir Gibson. In January 2009, Sir Gibson delivered his review. The families received a sixteenpage document outlining his findings. His full Report has never been made public and even the Chairman of the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has been denied access to it. Nowhere in the summary document provided to the families, is it indicated that intercepts did not take place on the day of the bombing.
These events sparked a year long investigation from the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. Their Chairman, Sir Patrick Cormack MP commented: Far too many questions remain unanswered. The criminal justice system has failed to bring to justice those responsible for the Omagh bombing. The least that those who were bereaved or injured have the right to expect are answers to those questions.
During the course of the Omagh families civil action against the Real IRA it was alleged that the PSNI Special Branch and or Security Services have in their possession a recording and transcripts relating to conversations which indicate that some individuals had planted a recording device in the car that delivered the bomb to Omagh.
It has emerged that the Irish Government was in secret talks with the Real IRA at the highest level. It has also emerged that An Garda Siochana had wellplaced informants close to and at the top of the Real IRA leadership. A member of the Gardai Detective Sergeant John White made public claims that he had information passed on from Gardai informant Paddy Dixon regarding the Real IRA and the Omagh Bomb. The Police Service of Northern Ireland consider Dixon to be a potentially crucial witness in the investigation o the Omagh bombing. They have made a number of formal requests to interview him without success. The Gardai have denied them access to Dixon who is currently on an Irish Government witness protection scheme.
The Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland subjected Whites claims to thorough investigation and found them to have substance. The then Police Ombudsman Nuala OLoan personally delivered her findings to the Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Brian Cowen. The Irish Government appointed three retired senior civil servants to carry out an inquiry into the allegations. None of these three individuals had any investigative skills. One was a former DPP and as such may have made decisions about Omagh. The inquiry was selective in the witnesses selected for interview Dixon was not interviewed by the team despite the fact that he was a central figure in the case nor was Norman Baxter PSNI Senior Investigating Officer Omagh Investigation or other potential witnesses who made themselves available. John Whites telephone records were not examined even though he gave permission for them to be acquired by the team. The resulting report Nally Report completely exonerated the Gardai of any blame. The Report lacked judicial powers powers of investigation and independence. The Nally Report has never been fully published.
In addition to the litany of failures which occurred in advance of the bombing the investigations conducted on both sides of the border have been subject to scathing attack. An internal review of the PSNI investigation carried out by Reviewing Officer McVicker identified hundreds of failures in the investigation and produced over three hundred recommendations including a number of previously unexamined investigative leads. The Review of the Office of the Police Ombudsman was equally damning of the PSNI investigation.
The only charges ever to be brought in Northern Ireland in relation to the Omagh Bomb resulted in the trial of Sean Hoey. He faced fiftyeight terrorist charges. After a fiftysix day trial Hoey was acquitted of all charges in a blaze of controversy. The judge accused PSNI witnesses of beefing up evidence on the stand. Throughout the course of the trial huge incompetencies in forensic processes were revealed including potential forensic contamination. In addition key pieces of evidence including the Timer Power Units of a number of linked bombing incidents had been lost. At the conclusion of the trial the then PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde stated that it was highly unlikely that anyone will ever be convicted in connection with the Omagh Bomb.
The bomb attack was launched from the Republic of Ireland with the bomb team spending less than forty minutes in Northern Ireland. However the Irish Government has repeatedly failed to assist the PSNI in their investigation of the atrocity. For instance the Irish Government has repeatedly refused to hand over DNA profiles of suspects to the PSNI. In addition the Garda investigation has failed to charge a single person with murder at Omagh. Despite a confession from the person who stole the car in Carrickmacross which was used in the Omagh bombing no charges have ever been brought against him not even for car theft.
The only conviction ever to be secured in relation to the Omagh Bomb was of Colm Murphy who was charged with conspiring with the Omagh bombers in 2002. He was sentenced to fourteen and a half years imprisonment in the Special Criminal Court in Dublin. He was later granted a retrial when it was found that Detective Garda Liam Donnelly and Detective Garda John Fahy were engaged in persistent lying under oath.
The Omagh families have experienced nothing but failures and excuses. We have been promised, both publicly and privately that those responsible would be brought before the courts. We were assured that no stone would be left unturned in the pursuit of justice. Nothing could be further from the truth. There have been monumental intelligence and investigative failures and colossal administrative mishandling which has undoubtedly minimised the chances of a successful prosecution of anyone responsible for the worst atrocity in the history of Northern Ireland.
When people ask why an inquiry into the Omagh bombing is required we respond with the following
to establish the facts and circumstances surrounding the Omagh bombing
to review and revise standards and procedures and to improve security readiness and crisis management;
to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of intelligence handling surrounding the Omagh Bomb
to determine the adequacy of coordination of intelligence and anti terrorism countermeasures amongst Northern Irelands security services Republic of Irelands security services and business organisations generally.
We must make sure that the lessons of Omagh are learnt. Never has so much been known about an atrocity and yet so little done to stop it or to catch those responsible.
The terms and powers of any inquiry would need to be such as to:inspire widespread public confidence
be guaranteed access to all the relevant official material and to otherwise enjoy full official cooperation and
operate independently
so that it can investigate thoroughly and comprehensively the circumstances surrounding the Omagh bomb and deliver a genuine impartial finding as to what happened in Omagh why it happened and who must bear the responsibility for it. This is the only type of inquiry which can end the continuous series of piecemeal inquiries into Omagh which have been conducted thus far.
We urge the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the British and Irish Governments to work with the Omagh Support and Self Help Group to achieve public closure.
PLEASE SUPPORT A FULL CROSS BORDER PUBLIC INQUIRY FOR OMAGH


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* Omagh Support & Self Help Group - Omagh Victims Group
Bridge Centre| 5A Holmview Avenue | Omagh | Co. Tyrone | BT79 0AQ
Tel: 028 8225 9877 | Fax: 028 8225 9877
Registered charity number: NI100554
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