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Monday, 19 February, 2001, 11:25 GMT
Mandelson's 10,000 Omagh gesture
The aftermath of the Omagh bombing
The Omagh Victims' Legal Trust needs to raise 1m
Former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson is donating 10,000 towards a campaign to sue the Omagh bombing suspects.

The Omagh Victims' Legal Trust is attempting to raise 1m by August to bring a civil action against the alleged perpetrators of the car bomb, which killed 29 people.

Mr Mandelson, who resigned from the government last month, has been recruited by the relatives of those killed in the explosion to front the legal trust along with former Tory Northern Ireland secretary Sir Patrick Mayhew.

He is also donating the fees paid by national newspapers for articles explaining his handling of the Hinduja passports affair, which led to his resignation. They amount to 10,000.

Peter Mandelson:
Peter Mandelson: Sympathy for the relatives' plight
Eighteen adults, including a woman heavily pregnant with twins, and 11 children were killed when a bomb exploded in Omagh in 1998.

Dissident republican paramilitaries in the Real IRA admitted responsibility for the attack.

No-one has been charged with the murders, but one man is currently awaiting trial in the Irish Republic accused of conspiracy to cause explosions.

Relatives say "desperation" at the lack prosecutions has prompted them to pursue the major suspects in the civil courts.

Such a case requires a lower burden of proof than criminal proceedings.

Money 'no concern'

Relatives would seek financial compensation for the killings, although they say money is not the motivation behind the case.

Victor Barker, whose son James, 12, was among the dead, said relatives would not rest until justice was done.

He told BBC Radio Ulster: "This is an attempt by the relatives to get these people into court to have to answer questions, to say and give explanations for what they did on August 15 1998.

Relatives of the victims are determined to ensure that someone has to answer some questions

Victor Barker
Father of Omagh victim
"It is a sense of justice and fair play the relatives want to see. Money is of no concern to any of us.

"It is a cry for justice. It is not a symbolic or 'waving hands' action. This is a very serious matter as far as the relatives are concerned.

"For me, in my position, to continue to live my life having known that my son died in a horrendous way that day, is a very difficult thing to do.

"But I must fight for him and give him the justice which his untimely and murderous death deserves."

Three-year deadline

He said the case was based upon extremely complex evidence, with masses of paperwork to be studied before a successful claim could be brought.

"Our advice from the lawyers acting for us is we need to have almost 1m to be able to bring a civil claim successfully," he added.

The money must be raised before the expiry of the three-year deadline for a civil litigation claim to be lodged.

'Terrible act'

Mr Mandelson first met relatives of the Omagh victims last October, while he was still Northern Ireland secretary.

At the time he said that the government would do everything in its power to catch the bombers.

"Every effort, every resource, every personal backing that I have will be given to continue the search and prosecution of those people who committed this terrible act," he said.

"I understand the frustration that these families have. They have my profound sympathy."

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See also:

30 Oct 00 | Northern Ireland
Mandelson meets Omagh bomb relatives
25 Oct 00 | UK Politics
No public inquiry into Omagh
06 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Omagh inquest hears first evidence
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