Omagh victims’ relatives struggle on in face of government failure
Michael Gallagher has battled 15 years for justice
Michael Gallagher, who lost his son Aidan in the Omagh bomb attack, holds a redacted email from a Real IRA mole during a press conference on behalf of the Omagh Bomb Survivors group yesterday. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA
“I do struggle. I struggle like everyone else. If I could get rid of all of this.” Michael Gallagher, the most mild-mannered of men, admits to fatigue after an hour-long press conference. It was a day peppered with media interviews beginning shortly after 6am and destined to continue into the evening.
He believes he should not have to do them. The British and Irish Governments and their respective agencies should have had this sorted years ago. But his duty to his murdered son and the others who died on August 15th, 1998 demands it of him.
Omagh seems weary with the burden of its tragedies: the horrors of the real IRA bombing; the family of seven which perished in a house fire and, more recently, the murder of PSNI officer Ronan Kerr.
Mickey Harte, whose daughter was murdered on honeymoon in Mauritius, lives a few miles down the road towards Ballygawley. The church where she was married is nearby as is the cemetery where she is buried. Omagh is a bright, market town, the county town of Tyrone, yet it is overshadowed by atrocity.
“On the 16th of August, 1998 I remember thinking, everybody knows who was responsible for this and everybody on this island is against them,” said Mr Gallagher.
He often refers to government promises that of all the crimes than went unresolved, the bombing of Omagh would be resolved. “How far from the truth that is.”
“I would dearly like to move on with my life and do a lot of the things I want to do. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to do those things. But this is most important – that those responsible for this bomb are made accountable.”
Michael speaks not only for his son, Aidan, who died in the town that day, but for all other victims of terror whether from Ireland or anywhere else.
“It always seems to be the victims that have to raise our voice. I would say to all politicians, please don’t ‘politick’ on victims’ issues regardless of who the victims are. We have to live with this on a daily basis.
“We just want the truth. We want where possible for those responsible to be brought before the courts.”
“We are realistic, we know the difficulties that the police have faced in this country. Over 40 years policemen put uniforms on their back and they did not know if they were going to come in their front door again. Many of them didn’t. We know how difficult it was to investigate crime.”
“Here is a crime where the evidence was voluminous. The Governments are closing their ears. They are not listening to what we have to say. It’s very regrettable that we have to raise these matters in public, we would rather talk about them in private.”