The government’s determination to clasp an enquiry into nan 1998 Omagh bombing is nan consequence of a long, lonely run by immoderate of nan injured and bereaved for truth and justice.
Chris Heaton-Harris’s announcement connected Thursday astir an independent statutory enquiry raises dream for nan former, not nan latter.
No 1 has been convicted complete nan azygous deadliest atrocity of Northern Ireland’s Troubles. The car explosive successful nan County Tyrone municipality killed 29 and injured hundreds. That it happened connected 15 August 1998, 4 months aft nan euphoria of nan Good Friday agreement, made it each nan much shocking.
The Real IRA, a dissident statement group, admitted responsibility. But constabulary successful Ireland and Northern Ireland struggled to stitchery capable grounds to convict suspects.
In 2002 a Dublin tribunal convicted a dissident republican, Colm Murphy, of plotting nan bombing, only for nan condemnation to beryllium later quashed. In 2003 Michael McKevitt, a Real IRA leader, was recovered blameworthy of directing coercion but not charged pinch Omagh.
In 2009 immoderate victims’ relatives won a civilian case: McKevitt and 3 different men were recovered liable for nan explosive and ordered to salary £1.6m successful damages. It was a symbolic triumph because nan 4 suspects remained free and did not salary a penny. McKevitt died of crab successful 2021.
Omagh families waged a abstracted conflict to scrutinise information services’ action – aliases deficiency of action – earlier and aft nan attack. Eleven days earlier nan explosive nan Royal Ulster Constabulary was warned of a planned onslaught successful Omagh connected 15 August.
So began a ineligible odyssey of investigations, rulings and appeals. In 2001 Northern Ireland’s constabulary ombudsman criticised nan constabulary investigation arsenic earnestly flawed. The Police Service of Northern Ireland – nan RUC’s successor – rejected nan ombudsman’s cardinal allegations.
In 2013 nan past Northern Ireland secretary, Theresa Villiers, rejected increasing calls from Omagh families for an inquiry. In 2015 Michael Gallagher, whose boy Aiden was 1 of those killed, won nan correct to legally situation Villiers’ decision.
That led to a 2021 precocious tribunal ruling by Mr Justice Horner that nan British and Irish governments each undertake human authorities compliant investigations. It paved nan measurement for Heaton-Harris’s announcement connected Thursday and puts unit connected Irish authorities to cooperate pinch nan inquiry.
Gallagher says nan extremity is not to embarrass nan authorities but to understand what went incorrect and study lessons to mitigate immoderate early tragedy. “I thought that it was thing that I would ne'er hear. It is simply a very important measurement forward,” he told RTÉ.
For campaigners specified arsenic Stanley McCombe, who has said he cannot unrecorded without knowing nan afloat communicative down his wife’s murder, it gives hope.
However, some, specified arsenic Kevin Skelton, who mislaid his wife, told nan Guardian successful 2021 the attraction should beryllium connected compensation alternatively than retrospectively judging information unit operations. “To opportunity it could person been prevented won’t bring anybody back. There’s nary point.”