04 January 2006

Group launches internet archive of Omagh atrocity

Belfast Telegraph

By Michael McHugh
04 January 2006

Amateur video taken moments after the Real IRA bomb explodes in Omagh - BBC photo

THOUSANDS of articles on the Omagh bomb will go online later this month as part of the Omagh victims' efforts to mark their loss.

A total of 2,500 newspaper and magazine articles will be available in an archive, the first time dozens of sources of information have been pooled about one of the Troubles' greatest atrocities.

The August 1998 Real IRA blast killed 29 people and has sparked thousands of column inches as relatives continue to press for justice and uncover the truth about the killings.

The Omagh Victims' Support and Self-Help Group was recently awarded £20,000 from the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs' Reconciliation Fund which will help continue the processing of information.

Michael Gallagher, chairman of the Support and Self-Help Group, said he was pleased to see the archive project making progress. "This money from the Department of Foreign Affairs should help pay for another worker to work on the archive project which is going live in the middle of this month," he said.

"There are £2,500 articles on it and we are still processing material from newspapers, magazines and videos as well DVDs.

"It will be a valuable resource for anyone interested in the Omagh bomb and will be accessible through the internet with much of the material also being held in our office."

Mr Gallagher, whose son Aidan was killed in the blast, added that he was meeting later this month with Garda Chief Commissioner Noel Conroy and Human Rights Commission Chief Commissioner Monica McWilliams to press for a public cross-border inquiry into the handling of the Omagh bomb investigation by forces north and south.

Relatives have met with all the political parties in Northern Ireland as part of their campaign for a thorough hearing, which would look at how the security forces handled alleged tip-offs from informants before the event.

They also want an explanation for the disappearance of Paddy Dixon, an alleged informant on the Garda Protection Scheme, who is wanted for questioning by the PSNI.

His handler, former garda John White claims he passed on the information from Dixon to his superiors but this was not acted on. One man, Sean Hoey (35) from Molly Road in Jonesborough, is charged in connection with the bombing. He faces 61 terrorist and explosives charges.

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