Omagh bomb victims still waiting for justice, 25 years on

No one has been found criminally responsible for the 1998 attack in Northern Ireland, which remains the worst single atrocity of the Troubles

Family members of those killed in the Omagh bombing attack gather at a memorial service in the town on Sunday. AFP

Northern Ireland is marking 25 years since the Omagh bombing amid renewed calls for those responsible to be brought to justice.

The attack by dissident republicans in 1998 devastated the County Tyrone town, killing 29 people – including a woman pregnant with twins – and injuring hundreds of others.

Some bereaved family members laid single white roses in the town and then said prayers before a moment of silence was held to honour the victims.

A crowd of more than 100 people lined the streets as the short ceremony took place.

No one has ever been found criminally responsible for the attack, although several people were found guilty but later had convictions overturned.

It remains the worst single atrocity in the history of the Troubles.

Alliance party leader Naomi Long, a former justice minister in the Northern Ireland Executive, appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

Ms Long said that the announcement of a statutory inquiry into the bombing will have brought some relief for grieving families “but nothing can truly ease the pain of the horrific loss they suffered”.

“That the dissident republicans behind this crime have yet to be brought to justice simply adds to the anguish,” she added.

“Those bereaved and injured by the Omagh bomb have a right to know the full facts surrounding the tragic event and even now, 25 years on, I would appeal to anyone with information to come forward.”

British Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris said that lessons must be learnt from the terror attack which “had absolutely no justification, and never will.”

Daniel McCrossan, a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly from the Social Democratic and Labour Party, also paid tribute to the “strength of the Omagh bombing families” and said the “scars still run deep”.

Dissident republicans, who were opposed to the Good Friday peace deal, have remained a stubborn presence in Northern Ireland.

Earlier this year, they were blamed for the attempted murder of senior Police Service of Northern Ireland detective John Caldwell.

Last week the PSNI revealed a document had mistakenly been shared online which included the names of about 10,000 officers and staff.

Details released included the surname and first initial of every employee, their rank or grade, where they are based and the unit they work in.

Thousands of officers have expressed concern for their safety, with the current level of terrorist threat assessed as severe, meaning an attack is highly likely.

Updated: August 15, 2023, 2:37 PM