06 May 2005


SF agrees meeting with Omagh victims

06/05/2005 - 15:47:23

Sinn Féin has agreed to a meeting with relatives of the Omagh bomb victims.

Before his runaway victory in West Belfast was confirmed, the party president Gerry Adams was challenged by Victor Barker and Michael Gallagher whose sons were killed in the August 1998 bombing outrage.

Mr Adams is being urged to call on republicans to make statements to investigating police officers and a party spokesman later confirmed that chief negotiator Martin McGuinness was ready to meet with victims’ relatives.

There was some jostling when Mr Adams arrived at City Hall for the declaration with Mr Gallagher claiming he was manhandled by Sinn Féin supporters.

His son, Aiden, 21, and Mr Barker’s son, James, 12, were among the 29 killed in the atrocity. The two men had been supporting the human rights candidate Professor Liam Kennedy who polled just 147 votes compared to Mr Adams’ 24,348.

The Sinn Féin leader pledged to support all sides in his overwhelmingly nationalist constituency.

He said: “I represent all those people who voted for us, those who voted against us and those who did not vote at all. Even though we were the subject of a campaign of vilification and invective this vote shows the savvy and sophistication of our voters in West Belfast.”

The SDLP candidate Alex Attwood admitted Mr Adams had been returned with a powerful mandate but claimed that within the last four to five months the hopes of many people behind the Good Friday Agreement were being dashed.

He said: “Let us no longer have the politics of baby steps. We need to take big leaps and have imagination.”

Mr Adams who was in contact with Downing Street earlier today to congratulate Tony Blair on his general election victory insisted: “It is only a question of when we meet the DUP and if they don’t then it’s a challenge for Mr Blair.”

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