Relatives seek review of UK decision on Omagh inquiry
Families say reasons given by Northern Secretary Theresa Villers for not holding inquiry are ‘trivial’
The scene after the bombing in Omagh in 1998 in which 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, died.
Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers today has rejected calls for a public cross-Border inquiry into the 1998 Real IRA Omagh bombing that claimed the lives of 29 people including a woman pregnant with twins.
The decision announced in a statement this morning by Ms Villiers has angered the Omagh families who have been calling for a cross-Border inquiry for several years. No one has been convicted for the attack.
A number of the families said they plan to seek a judicial review of the decision.
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“I do not believe that there are sufficient grounds to justify a further review or inquiry above and beyond those that have already taken place or are ongoing,” said Ms Villiers.
“This was not an easy decision to make and all views were carefully considered. I believe that the ongoing investigation by the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland is the best way to address any outstanding issues relating to the police investigation into the Omagh attack,” she added.
A letter was hand delivered to members of the Omagh families this morning informing them of Ms Villiers’ decision.
Her decision which comes ahead of the Haass talks on the past, parades and flags, raises questions as to whether the Government will follow suit and declare a cross-Border inquiry can’t happen in light of the Northern Secretary’s decision.
Her move appears to rule out the possibility of such a comprehensive investigation.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Government was still examining the claims made in the families’ report.
“The Government are (sic) in possession of the report from the families and the Minister for Justice (Alan Shatter) is considering that,” Mr Kenny said.
Mr Kenny stressed he was prepared to meet and listen to concerns raised by Troubles’ victims, and not just those from Omagh.
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said: “We are hugely conscious of the continuing suffering of the families following the horrific bomb that was let off in Omagh.
Mr Gilmore said he would meet Ms Villiers shortly have a “formal discussion” about her decision.
“We also have to bear in mind that the Omagh bomb was planted by terrorist organisations which are still active, which we still have to deal with, which is the subject of intention from the security police forces in this state and in Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness described the decision as “a mistake”. The Sinn Fein politician said he supports the families in their plans to seek a judicial review. “Theresa Villiers has closed down a demand that the families have had for many years and a real hope that the families have had that they would get a proper investigation into what happened,” he said, speaking on a five-day economic trip to New York with First Minister Peter Robinson.