Omagh policeman urges bombers to ‘lift the phone, stop the suffering’
Richard Scott was on the scene within minutes and searched for survivors
Survivor Donna Marie McGillion at Omagh memorial service. Photograph: Liam McBurney/ PA Wire
A former policeman who tended to the dead and injured of the 1998 Omagh bomb has called on those responsible to come forward and admit their actions.
Richard Scott said the 20th anniversary of the atrocity was “high time” the perpetrators took responsibility for what they had done and allowed the thousands affected by the atrocity to move on.
“Come forward, and have guts to admit what they did,” he said. “Lift the phone, stop the suffering.
“If the cowards who left that bomb used themselves as an example and came forward I think it would make an awful difference to this country. It would be a real starting point,” he said.
Some 31 people, including unborn twins, died when a car bomb left by the Real IRA exploded on the main street of Omagh, Co Tyrone, on August 15th, 1998. Nobody has ever been convicted of their murders.
Scott was on the scene within minutes and was among those who searched for survivors and helped recover the bodies of the victims.
He was among those who worked on the police investigation into the bomb, and says he feels sad and angry when their efforts are criticised.
“I know my police colleagues worked very, very hard in that investigation,” said Scott. “I know the hours and the dedication that they put in, and I know that those officers tried their very best to get the people responsible for it,” he said.
Subsequently diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, Scott is now a full-time volunteer with Military and Police Support of West Tyrone.
“The blame lies fairly and squarely with the people who made the bomb, planted the bomb, and let that bomb go off, they knew exactly what they were doing.
“They have no remorse which is sad, and it’s also sad for the people who know who did it.
“Just have the decency, have the courage to come out and say, ‘yeah, I did it’, and give everybody a chance to move on.
“Is it going to happen? No, because they caused so much suffering on that day and 20 years on, there are still people suffering while those people sit in their homes and drink their tea and carry on their normal lives. They can do that, but a lot of people still can’t.”
In 2017 bereaved families belonging to the Omagh Support and Self Help group announced they were to sue the North’s chief constable for investigative failings they believe let the killers escape justice.
A 2001 report by Northern Ireland’s then police ombudsman, Nuala O’Loan, found many evidential opportunities were missed: in 2014, a report by the police ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, highlighted inexplicable delays in arresting known suspects in the days before the attack.
A separate legal challenge to the UK government’s decision not to hold a public inquiry has been delayed until 2019.