Government asks UK for Omagh bomb inquiry terms of reference

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice meet with family members of victims of bombing

The Government has asked the UK for “the earliest possible sight” of the terms of reference for its Omagh bomb inquiry, to clarify what its involvement will be.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin and Minister for Justice Helen McEntee met family members of some of those who lost their lives in the blast, which hit the Co Tyrone town on August 15th, 1998.

The bomb killed 29 people, including a woman who was pregnant with twins, and injured hundreds of others.

In 2021, a Belfast High Court judge recommended that the UK government carry out an investigation into alleged security failings in the lead up to the attack and that a similar investigation should be established by the Irish Government.


The UK’s Northern Ireland Secretary, Chris Heaton-Harris, announced in February that there would be an independent inquiry into the fatal explosion.

Omagh bomb campaigners Stanley McCombe, who lost his wife Ann; Michael Gallagher, who lost his son Aiden; and his daughter Cat Gallagher-Wilkinson met Government figures in the Iveagh House, Dublin, for over an hour on Wednesday.

Before the meeting, Mr Gallagher said there was a “strong cross-Border element” to the bombing and that if an inquiry was not held in the Republic, he said it would be “like reading half a book”.

“Eighty per cent of the evidential opportunities lie within the Republic. I think the Irish Government realise that they have a serious part to play in all of this. We’re looking forward to hearing what they have to say this afternoon,” he said.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Martin said that when there was clarity on the UK inquiry, Cabinet would consider the response Ireland would make.

He said it was important to hear from the families about how the Government could assist them.

“We are currently waiting on the publication of the terms of reference for the statutory inquiry into the Omagh bombing, announced earlier this year by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland,” he said.

“Last week, in London, I asked Chris Heaton-Harris for the earliest possible sight of those terms of reference now that a chair of the Omagh Bombing Inquiry has been announced.

“When we have clarity on the nature of the UK inquiry, I will then consider, along with the Minister for Justice and my Cabinet colleagues, the next steps in this jurisdiction.

“The needs of the victims of that unspeakable attack will be at the heart of any action that the Government takes.

“As we approach the 25th anniversary of the attack, we will not be found wanting.

“The Omagh bombing was a savage attack, carried out with disregard for the people of this island. It also showed total disregard for the overwhelming support for the Good Friday Agreement which was shown in referendums just months before the bombing.”

Ms McEntee spoke in the Dáil on Tuesday night about the Omagh bomb attack, in advance of its 25th anniversary this August.

“It was a brutal atrocity and an act of mass murder,” she said.

“The terrorists who carried it out had simply no sense of humanity. It is they who carry responsibility for this cruel act and we must never forget that.

“Earlier this year, the UK announced its intention to establish an inquiry into the preventability of the Omagh bombing.

“We await further detail regarding the terms of reference of the inquiry.

“As has been done in relation to a number of historical inquiries, this state will co-operate fully as may be required.” – PA