Omagh bomb case against Seamus Daly collapses

Representative calls for meeting with Enda Kenny and public inquiry into Real IRA attack

Omagh bomb victims' representative Michael Gallagher has called for a meeting with the Taoiseach following the collapse of a case against a man charged with involvement in the 1998 Real IRA attack.

Mr Gallagher is seeking support from Enda Kenny for a public inquiry into the bombing that claimed the lives of 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins.

Prosecutors in the North yesterday dropped all charges against Seamus Daly in connection with the bombing.

At Ballymena Magistrates Court, the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) confirmed it was offering no further evidence and all charges were being withdrawn against Mr Daly, who was arrested in south Armagh in 2014.


Mr Daly is a bricklayer from Jonesborough, Co Armagh, originally from Co Monaghan.

The PPS took the decision following inconsistency in evidence provided by Denis O’Connor from Kilkenny in court last week. That evidence was to have connected Mr Daly to a mobile phone used on the day of the Omagh bombing on August 15th, 1998.

Confused on call

The PPS had previously been of the view that there was a reasonable prospect of conviction. But after Mr O’Connor conceded that it was possible he confused receiving a call from Mr Daly on the day of the bombing with a call he had received eight days earlier, the case was no longer tenable.

Mr Daly’s solicitor, Peter Corrigan, may now seek compensation for his client.

The collapse of the case could have wider repercussions as Mr Daly, along with Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt, Liam Campbell and Colm Murphy, were found in a civil case to have been liable for the bombing.

Mr Corrigan indicated that because Denis O’Connor was one of the key witnesses, the civil case may be appealed. The four men were ordered to pay £1.6 million to victims, although no money has ever been handed over.

No conviction

No one has been criminally convicted for what was the single worst atrocity of the entire Troubles.

Mr Gallagher, who lost his 21-year-old son Aiden in the bombing, said the families would now consult their legal representatives to decide what to do next. He called for a meeting with the Taoiseach to press his demand for a public inquiry into the bombing.

In 2013, Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers rejected calls for a cross-Border public inquiry. The families are taking legal action to try to compel her to overturn her decision.

“We’ve been let down by the police service, by the PPS, by the criminal justice system. And this is probably, or was probably, the last chance for justice,” said Mr Gallagher.

Mr Gallagher hoped the Taoiseach would support the demand for an inquiry.

“A public inquiry would bring us answers,” he said. “It would bring us truth rather than justice. It would let us know who did what and why they did what they did.”

Amnesty International has supported the families' calls for a public inquiry.

“The failure of the state to deliver justice through the criminal courts only reinforces the case for an inquiry to help deliver truth,” said Amnesty’s Northern Ireland director, Patrick Corrigan.

“The Secretary of State must now revisit her indefensible decision.”

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times