02 April 2006

Omagh bomb relatives frustrated over prosecutions


02/04/2006 - 10:38:09

Far more people should be charged with the Omagh bomb outrage, victims claimed today.

On the eve of their first formal meeting with Northern Ireland Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde, relatives demanded prosecutions on the same scale as in the London and Madrid atrocities.

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aiden was among 29 murdered in the dissident republican strike on Omagh, also revealed his fears that the British and Irish governments may cut a deal with the terrorists.

He said: “Will they do something with the Real IRA and then find themselves in the embarrassing position of having to release those responsible for the bombing?”

So far only south Armagh electrician Sean Hoey, 36, has been charged with killing those caught up in the August 1998 blast. He is due to go on trial in September.

Mr Gallagher and other relatives will meet Sir Hugh and Chief Superintendent Norman Baxter, the detective in charge of the investigation, weeks after failing in their bid to have talks with the head of MI5, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller.

They wanted to meet her to discuss allegations that the security service withheld intelligence months before the bombing that either Omagh or Derry were to be possible targets.

Dame Elizabeth told the families she had nothing to add to Sir Hugh’s statement that no relevant intelligence which could have progressed the inquiry was kept back.

But at PSNI headquarters in Belfast on Monday they are expected to urge police to go after more suspects.

Their frustration has been intensified by the criminal offensive against the Islamic militants who murdered 191 people in the March 2004 Madrid train bombings.

More than 100 people have been held in connection with the attacks, with at least 20 still in custody.

Charges have also been brought against several men accused of involvement in the London bomb plot weeks after 52 people died in the July 7 2005 suicide attacks on the England capital.

“More people north and south of the border should be charged with Omagh,” Mr Gallagher said.

“I don’t think there’s been the degree of co-operation between the police forces which the families have been led to believe, and that’s for political reasons.

“The greatest fear the families have is that both Governments will come to an arrangement which legitimises these terrorist crimes.

“The victims’ haven’t been listened to.”

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