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Tuesday, August 18, 1998 Published at 21:01 GMT 22:01 UK

Sad memories for Prince in Omagh

The prince met local officials at the scene

The Prince of Wales has told the people of Omagh that the devastation brought back painful memories of his uncle, Lord Mountbatten, who was killed in an IRA bomb attack.

Kate Adie reports on the Prince's visit as the first funerals take place
Visiting the town to offer support, he was shown the clean-up operation and the damaged buildings in the street that was the centre of the explosion which claimed 28 lives.

Hundreds of residents gathered to greet the prince, who laid a wreath of flowers he had picked from his garden at Highgrove before leaving for the province.

Accompanied by Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam, he stopped to talk to many of those who lined the streets in respectful silence.

He told reporters: "I remember only too well the feelings when my uncle Lord Mountbatten and others were blown to small pieces.

'End to all the horrors'

"I remember hoping 19 years ago that something positive would come out of that, but unfortunately things went on.

"Let us pray this time that it will be the end to all the horrors that poor Ireland has suffered."

The Earl and three other people were blown up on their small fishing boat off County Sligo, in the Irish Republic, in 1979.

The prince spent about 30 minutes at the scene before leaving for County Tyrone Hospital to visit casualties of the bomb.

Prince Charles: "Let us pray this will be the end"
Outside the hospital he paid tribute to those who had treated the injured.

After visiting some of those injured in the explosion, including children, he praised "all the marvellous staff, the doctors and nurses and all the people who made such a difference".

Prince Charles: "I'm appalled and shattered"
"Out of such a tragedy comes the best of people," he said.

He added: "Let us pray this time that it will be the end to all the horrors that poor Ireland has suffered."

[ image: Prince Charles arriving at army barracks in Omagh]
Prince Charles arriving at army barracks in Omagh
"I'm shattered and horrified and the least I can do is to come here and offer my sympathy and support, especially to those who have the worst of the burden in looking after people.

"My memory goes back to 19 years ago when Lord Mountbatten was killed so I do have some understanding of the awful horrors that people have to put up with."

Charles meets Spanish minister

Prince Charles landed at RAF Aldergrove in Belfast where, accompanied by Mo Mowlam, he met Spanish children injured in the blast.

[ image: He was accompanied by the Northern Ireland Secretary, Mo Mowlam]
He was accompanied by the Northern Ireland Secretary, Mo Mowlam
They were at the base's medical centre, where they are waiting to be flown home to Madrid.

The prince was greeted by the Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, Francisco Alvarez-Cascof, who arrived in Northern Ireland on Monday to be with the injured and their relatives.

Before entering the medical centre the prince and Dr Mowlam were introduced to other Spanish officials.

Queen's 'heartfelt sympathy'

[ image: The floral tribute laid by Prince Charles]
The floral tribute laid by Prince Charles
Prince Charles is the first member of the Royal Family to visit Northern Ireland since the bombing. The Queen has already responded to the bombing.

She said: "Please pass my heartfelt sympathy to the bereaved, injured and those others who have suffered in their distress."

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