Sunday, August 16, 1998 Published at 14:23 GMT 15:23 UK
The Omagh bombing - your reaction
The devastation in the town centre
This is some of the reaction of visitors to BBC News online to the Omagh bombing on Saturday afternoon. Tell us what you think. Click here to email us. Please tell us your name and the country from which you are accessing BBC News online.
I was born in Portadown, but many of my family were from the Omagh area. I was shocked and sickened to hear the awful news on Saturday. What has always been so frustrating during 30 years of the Troubles and atrocities has been that the security forces know who perpetrated these evil acts, but they had a safe haven in the Irish Republic. I truly hope that Bertie Ahern is sincere when he promises to crush the so-called real IRA. But unfortunately, his government let the real IRA off , despite having been caught red-handed with explosives bound for the UK. Unfortuntely I think the only solution is to let the SAS do what they are trained to do, because if the scum who murdered all those innocent people in Omagh are put in prison, they will no doubt be free again in a year.
Sandra Robinson, Windsor, UK
I am shocked and disgusted by what happened in Omagh on Saturday. We were coming home from Belfast and met the ambulances on the motorway but didn't realise what had happened until we arrived home. Growing up in Northern Ireland, bombs cease to surprise me, but this was different: the sheer scale of the loss of life. Words are meaningless, nothing is adequate enough to be able to comprehend the grief of the injured and the bereaved families. To even try to think of the experience it must have been, the death it must have been, the scene it must have been. There was an added sinister side to this bomb, the bad warning, that people were actually herded like animals into the path of the bomb, while the real animals sat back and laughed, the terrorists. What is in their evil, twisted minds we will never know, and all the people renouncing violence in Sinn Fein, don't forget that they were involved in the planning of atrocities like this in days gone by, when the IRA were taking innocent people off the streets and butchering them in hidden places, bit by bit. And what all for? Is living in a British state under a British sovereign that bad that you have to murder and maim to get a United Ireland? After the Good Friday Agreement is fully implemented then everyboby should be able to have their own full say. All I can say is that the prisoners shouldn't be let out until there is no fear of a return to violence by ANYBODY and there is no fear of weapons held by ANY paramilitary organisation and even then they should still be locked up because NOBODY has the right to kill and they should stay in jail until they die, to know the full impact of what they have done, until the day that they are called to give an account of what they have done to the poor innocent people of Omagh, and then they will experience REAL punishment-what it is to rot in hell. This bomb has created fear, I think, in Northern Ireland, for if the bombers strike again and there is another bomb scare, we won't know where to go. Like the people of Omagh, we could just walk straight into the bomb.
Ruth McClean, Northern Ireland
There's too much talk about the peace process and not enough efforts to stamp out terrorism. It's time for terrorists to be dealt with in the same manner as they deal with their victims, i.e. capital punishment. Furthermore no prisoners should be released until all weapons are decommissioned. It makes me sick to see Sinn Fein on TV when they know and support the persons responsible for this terrible act.
P Kelly, London, formerly of Co.Down, N. Ireland
I am compelled to write, as I still can not believe how anybody considering themselves a human being could consider, let alone do such a thing. Every year of my life I have heard of death and destruction, every year I wonder when it will end. I've argued with supporters of the terrorist groups, and there arguments could never justify, for me, what has occurred over the last 30 years. I was in Ireland when the three little boys where burned in their beds, I couldn't believe it, I never imaged that it could come to this, I could only cry. To those who have lost family members, friends and loved ones, to the town of Omagh, I have no words to explain, I can only hope that with time you can all find some peace of mind and come to terms with the tragedy that has ripped your town to bits. To those who played a part in this bomb, no matter how small, you are not Irish, you are not human. Give it up, are you not listening to people of Ireland ? We do not want a war, we want peace. We have spoken, we choose PEACE, we do not want to hear from you again.
Clair Moore (from Dublin) presently living in the Nederlands
I am sick at heart over this horrible thing. I wish I could understand what goes through the mind of someone who does such a terrible thing with no thought of the innocent lives at stake. What do they expect to gain? I will pray for the families left to pick up the pieces.
I am now living in England but I was born in Dublin and brought up in Northern Ireland, never before have the tragedies of the province touched me so deeply. I am saddened beyond belief by the carnage in Omagh on Saturday. There are many, many wonderful people and wonderful places in Northen Ireland, but I wonder now if I will ever return home.
It is impossible for people such as myself to understand the mindset of people who feel it is legitimate to set off bombs and kill civilians who are not directly involved in a conflict. The paralells between Omagh and the similar events in Africa are too close together to ignore. All that we can hope for is that people who are more closely involved in the organisations who carried out these actions should try and bring pressure to bear on the perpetrators to convince them that it is not a good idea to kill innocent individuals. Is this possible?
I am totally sickened by what's happened in Omagh. As an Irish person it's disgusting to see those horrific photos on the front page of newspapers out here in Australia. May God help all those whose lives have been affected by such a cowardly act.
E Murphy, Sydney
The sense of loss for the relatives of victims of previous atrocities both in Northern Ireland and Great Britain is no less than for those of the victims of the Omagh bombing. It is an insult to the victims and relatives of victims of previous attacks that the perpetrators are going to be released early, some serving only a few years for murder. I hope they catch the Omagh bombers and bring them to justice, but what is justice in Northern Ireland? There should be NO early release for prisoners in N.Ireland until ALL factions join the peace process, and only for minor crimes such as membership of the IRA. Nobody convicted of causing death either by shooting or bombing has the the right to rejoin society whatever they claim their 'cause' to be.
Andrew Kelly, United Kingdom
As an Irish citizen currently residing and working within the UK, I am sickened, shocked and devasted at Saturday's bombing. I know I speak for all of my Irish friends when I say that I unreservedly condemn the cowardly bastards who perpetrated this unspeakable horror upon men, women and children. They didn't care if they were killing nationalist or unionist, they just sought to destroy, to kill and maim the innocent. The Irish Government, the British Government and the leaders of the main political parties know who carried out this atrocity. I heard someone say that they cannot name them due to legal reasons. I say name them and shame them. The Irish Government should reintroduce internment without delay. Sure, they may intern a few innocent people, but at least those responsible would be behind bars.
My name is Shane Kelly from Loughmacrory, Omagh. I was very close to the bomb on Saturday afternoon and I was extremely lucky to escape injury. My girlfriend is a nurse and she administered first aid to people at the scene and we both tried to comfort people that were waiting for emergency services. The screams, the car alarms, the sirens, the tremendous explosion, the injured looking so helpless, the dead - their precious lives stolen from them by a group of so called people - these bombers have nothing to offer anybody in Omagh,Belfast , Dublin or indeed any other part of the world. They are scum, they will always be scum - we don't need them or want them near a process that was showing signs of hope and a future for us to get on with our lives.
I have lived and worked in Omagh for 18 years and in the last eight years I have worked as a community relations worker in trying to build trust and understanding between both communities in the area. Omagh is a great place to live and work with both Catholics and Protestants co-operating together in the local community. More work still needs to be done. I only hope and pray that this outrage will bring people together as there is no alternative to the current peace process. This community is completely stunned. Everyone wants peace except for a small unrepresentative number of facists. I would like to offer my sincere sympathy to all the families and friends of the people killed and injured.
Aidan Bunting, Omagh
I was in Perth, Scotland when I heard the news, getting ready to return home to Northern Ireland after a week's holiday. The holiday was beautiful and I enjoyed every minute but it is now a waste. The relaxation was gone in a flash. Every time you hear of death, you remember the one you lost. So now it's back to tension and to fear.
I left Omagh four years ago to attend university in London. Over the past four years I have watched the highs and the lows unfold in the peace process. I finally thought that with the Good Friday agreement that things were now taking a turn for the best. However this hope was shattered when on Saturday evening I heard the terrible news, it is difficult to put into words the emotions that one feels on hearing such things. I am due to return home on Saturday but how will there be time for enjoyment when a group of mindless people rip out the heart of a community and leave it to die?
I am sickened and disgusted by what those murderers have done to my home town; the initial shock and panic for family and friends who work in the town has been replaced by a numbness and incomprehension, for although immediate family have been physically unscathed there are many, many others who have been senselessly maimed and killed. In my selfishness I thank God that my mother turned left over Bridge Street instead of being herded towards Nicholl and Shiels with the other innocent victims. My heart goes out to Mick Grimes who has lost his wife, daughter and granddaughter. Going "down the town" on a Saturday was an integral part of life in Omagh and it will never be the same again. The scars on the town itself, those with missing limbs, those with missing loved ones. I still cannot take in the enormity of what has happened.
Rosie McCrystal, London
Now working and living just north west of London, learning of Saturday's evil deed at home has greatly saddened me. I'm originally from Ederney in County Fermanagh and almost believed that I was leaving a country at a time when it had finally found its feet. It's sad that there are people that will plot to cause havoc, pain and death to those in who really wish, nothing more than to get on with their day-to-day business and lives. I fear for my homeland, my family and my friends. Omagh is only 20 minutes drive from my family home and considered "only just down the road." Here in England, people only see pockets of information, and only fragments of the bigger picture. I cried by myself alone in my room yesterday after seeing the pictures on the television and listening to the relatives mourning publicly. May God look after them all. Keep them strong and safe and away from danger. To the brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, uncles and aunts of those dead people; I say; we're all praying and thinking of you. Distance is no factor whatsoever. Too, I'm saddened for the mothers of those wicked men, who'll through time, have to learn that their very own sons have been involved in such evil acts. I visit home as often as I can and as often as my work will permit. I shall be returning to the province again at the end of this month.
Having lived in Northern Ireland for the best part of 30 years, of which I spent four in Omagh I am shocked and devastated by the mindless brutality of the people claiming to be fighting for their right to a United Ireland. I personally am a neutral, I grew up in a mixed area between extreme Nationalist and Loyalist areas and learnt that no conflict is worth the cost of a human life. These mindless acts do nothing but breed hatred within the population. My heart goes out to the families and friends of those who have been injured or killed in the bomb, and I can at least partially understand how they feel since I also new some of the victims and some of the people who helped them immediatly after the blast. I hope and pray that the people opposed to violence can help keep the Good Friday agreement going in the face of this opposition. Democracy is the right of the people of Ireland, both North and South, and the majority of the people voted to accept the agreement and to do their best to make it work.
P Marshall, Dublin, Ireland
I am sickened. The Lord will comfort those involved, and may he also help the poor deranged ones who carry out such evil. Our prayers are for them.
Stephen Montgomery, Northern Ireland
I am a 20 year-old resident of Omagh. I live 100 yards from the Bomb Blast. On Saturday I drove away from the site 5 minutes before the bomb went off. I know how lucky I am to have been away from the area when this atrocity happened. As I drove out of town to visit friends I met ambulances. Never did it occur to me to turn on the radio for a news broadcast. I did not hear the terrible news until 8:45 pm that night. A feeling of shock, horror, worry and nausea all came over me at once. I was home at 9:30 pm. I worried about friends, relatives people who I know. Not knowing was the worst part. The phonelines were down. I could only go home to an unknown outcome. When I got home I was more relieved to see that my mum and aunt were ok and that all of my relatives were accounted for. I was lucky. Everybody knows somebody in Omagh who was injured. My next door neighbour's cousin was killed. My friends' cousin was killed. Family friends are in hospital now battling for their lives. Dear God I hope that they pull through. I felt sickened, helpless not knowing what to do. It was so long after the event that I could not go and do anything which would help. I went to the Leisure Centre where I work as a part time lifeguard to see if there was anything to be done. All of the lesser injured had gone home. Only those who had lost friends and relatives who were still missing were there. We offered our support to others and our friends among us. It was all I could do then. That night when I finally went to bed I thankfully slept well. I know many others did not sleep that night. When I got up in the morning I saw yet again the slight damage to our front windows in our house. It really brought it home that just round the corner on the main street in my home town 21 people had their lives brutally taken away from them. More have died since, in hospital as I am sure you all know. I hope that the death toll does not rise any higher. I pray that those people who were injured pull through. I pray for all of the people in my town be they from any religion. We are all PEOPLE united in grief. I know that the people of Omagh are strong and we will hold together. I know that we will not forget what happened on Saturday 15th August 1998 in Omagh but we will show that we cannot be beaten. My prayers are with the people of Omagh. May those who have died Rest in Peace.
Rory Mc Gerty, Omagh
As someone who used to live close to Omagh, I am shocked and saddened by what has happened in the town where I spent many happy years at school and my sympathy goes out to the the families of those who were injured and killed in it.
Des Farry, UK
I come from N.Ireland and when I heard the news I couldn't believe it. I have been following the coverage over the last 24 hours and it just seems to get worse.The story that touched me was the pregnant woman who lost both her legs and the wee boy who also lost his legs. I can't imagine the horror those people are going through - my heart goes out to all the families who lost loved ones and for the people who were injured. I hope they find the animals who have done this and lock them away for the rest of their lifes, hanging is to good for them. I am currently living in Seattle but plan to go home soon for a visit but all the reasons why I left Ireland are still there and they don't seem to be ever going away.
There is nothing more despicable or cowardly than a car bomb. My daughter will soon be marrying a young Protestant man from Ulster and I assure you, should she be killed or maimed by a car bomb or other means by some group of insane attackers, the wrath of an American God would descend on those responsible before they had the foggiest idea of what was happening to them.
I live in Newtownards and remember the devastation that took place when the bomb went off there and wrecked the town. I was in Omagh today to take my Mother out to lunch and passed through where the bomb was minutes before it exploded. I think all those who have been released from prison in the past weeks and days should be rounded up and interned again Mo Mowlam has made a terrible blunder and innocent people are now paying with their lives. The technology that has been used and the types of explosives used bears all the hallmarks of the ira (They don't deserve capitals) to call them the new ira or the real ira or the provisional ira makes little difference, they are all murders of one description or another. I believe the death penalty should be used in this instance for the perpetrators of this heinous crime when they are apprehended as I am sure they must be, and I should add if it should transpire that so called loyalists are responsible the same should apply. Words fail me to say everything I feel.
I was born in Derry but now live in Scotland. The worst thing about Omagh for me was the children - innocent angels whose lives were taken by callous maniacs, who have now surely relinquished their souls. They will get their day.
Having been born in Northern Ireland and lived there until 1979, mass killings have lost their power to shock me as much as they do other people who have not the experience. However, this latest massacre has left me not so much angry as saddened, that a country which is crying out for peace should be subjected to such an atrocity carried out by a few individuals who care nothing but for their own misguided and flawed "principles". My Chinese friends do not understand why the population, particularly women and children, should be allowed to be targeted by people like this. There is much criticism, particularly from the US, on the perceived lack of human rights in China. Terrorism here is dealt with swiftly and severely, as it is in other countries. Who now speaks for the "civil right" to life of the dead of Omagh.
I don't know why I'm even sending this, words fail me. I live in Bangor, Co-Down where we've experienced too many bombings in the past. But what happened in Omagh defies description. Sitting here this afternoon I'm trying to imagine what in Gods name would motivate people to do this. You get used to a certain level of violence in NI, but this surpasses anything I've seen in thirty years. Those "freedom fighters" that planted it, how can they sit down today with their friends and family and watch the television. How can they possibly live with this? I love my country very much but there are times when immigration seems an option. I'm also sickened by the reaction of some politicians particularly from the DUP who by blaming the NI office for this tragedy are trying to make some political gain out of this. The only people responsible for this, are those that planted the bomb and then phoned in a misleading warning and anyone who tries to tell me otherwise is as callous and insane as the bombers themselves. Today in Ulster most people's thoughts will be with the victims, the families and friends of the dead and maimed. It serves as a brutal reminder that as always terror is just around the corner in this country and it might easily have been me, my friends or family pointlessly snuffed out without regard to culture, religion or age.
Laura Orr, Northern Ireland
I still aspire to a 32 county Republic, but if it means more innocent lives will be lost then it is not worth it. I am deeply shocked by what happened in Omagh, but what was done could not have been done for the sake of the Republic and those who murdered can never deserve to be termed 'political prisoners', if they are lucky they would be called 'political dead people' instead of just being called barbaric scum, which they are. What galls me most is that the Gardaí know who gave the order and yet he is untouchable. I know that violence breeds violence, but we should crush the Real IRA. while it is small with few sympathisers. As for the death penaltly, it shouldn't be ruled out. May God welcome all the victims of this atrocity to heaven and put the murderers where they belong.
Brian O'Leanacháin, Ireland
I am sickened. The Lord will comfort those involved, and may he also help the poor deranged ones who carry out such evil. Our prayers are for them.
Stephen Montgomery, 16, Bangor, Northern Ireland
I am a native of Omagh, now living in Holland. In fact we had just spent a few weeks holiday there returning here on Wednesday. I am gutted by the horrific news of yesterday. I too, was panicking about my family and had trouble getting through on the phone but thankfully, they were all safe. I still cannot believe that this has happened - it's like a bad dream you're hoping you'll wake up from, but from the stories I've heard from my brother, it's only too real. Omagh is a small town where everyone knows everyone else, where people have always lived together peacefully - is this why Omagh was targetted? This tragedy is something which will mark the town forever. My heart goes out to the families and friends of those killed and maimed.
Deirdre McBride, Holland
I grew up and lived in Northern Ireland. Words cannot express the grief I feel for the people of Omagh and the anger I feel against the people who carried out this EVIL act. I use the word evil as it is the only way one can describe the actions and the people who carried this out. I pray to God that these people will be brought to justice.
Allen, Stockholm, Sweden
Ireland unfree shall never be at peace....... Padraic Pearse, c1916. The Republican dream is the Northern Ireland nightmare. The Belfast Agreement means nothing to those who so dream. Others who called it a peace agreement do not understand Republican perceptions of Irish history. Those who teach history are handling some very vile poisons indeed.
Nevin Taggart, nr Bushmills Co Antrim, Northern Ireland
People here, in the Parish of Holy Family, South Pasadena, California, are praying for all those people who died in the terrible bombing. We pray too for their families and friends and for all the communities affected by this outrage. We pray that peace may come. Our thoughts, hopes, and prayers are with you.
Rev. Adrian Egan, C.Ss.R.
I will admit, living in the United States I may not be totally informed with the situation in Northern Ireland. There is a tradition of hatred and violence but please, we are coming to a new millennium here and there is virtually no change. I believe it is time for Irish people to turn in the people responsible for this slaughter of innocents - it is always the innocent who die anyway. It is time for the IRA who were NOT involved in this to turn in the guilty. Let's have some decency: human to human - forget north or south, Catholic or Protestant (Jesus is Lord of both religions) let's go for RIGHT vs WRONG. This cold-blooded murder by COWARDS has got to stop. Step up to the plate for what is right and save your grandchildren and great grandchildren.
As a historian, I am again saddened that the "hard men" of Ireland have not heard from their own that peace and talking will be the future of Ireland North and South, Protestant and Catholic Republican and Unionist. My heart goes out to the victims and families and hope that this will the last tragedy of the troubles.
Peter Shields, Kansas City Missouri
Tragedy is the only word that is printable. How can these bombers look at themselves in the mirror without seeing the faces of the children, women and men. These bombers call themselves human. NO, they are the lowest form of life on earth. I extend my sympathies to the familes of the victims and pray for the speedy recovery of all the injured. Please let the peace process continue.
Connie Sweeney, USA
As a native of Northern Ireland with family in Omagh, I'm being asked one question this morning from my Romanian work colleagues - "Why?" I don't know the answer, does anyone? Can anyone explain or rationalise the madness, evil, and barbarity that took place this weekend. I certainly can't.
Sean Rainey, Bucharest, Romania
Irish born and reared, I like all Irish people became used to news of horrible wickedness over the years in the north of Ireland, but Saturday's slaughter of innocent men, women and children, brought me for the first time to tears as I read and listened to eye witness accounts of the terrible reality of such a mindless outrage as was perpetrated against ordinary people enjoying a Saturday morning in a busy town centre. I hope those responsible will soon be made to pay for the dreadful suffering they have caused to so many.
William O'Neill (from Co Carlow) , Guarapari Brazil
I am from Belfast and now reside in the US, having lived here for seven years. I returned for a vacation with my new fiancee just five weeks ago when I thought that the province was revealing it's more ugly side. The death of the three young boys in Ballymoney was brutal but this attack in Omagh leaves me dumbfounded. I truly believe that there are some people to whom the word 'democracy' will NEVER mean anything. Sinn Fein has negotiated a peace which required courage and compromise from all sides. No-one will ever get all they desire in Ulster - not Unionists, not Republicans. So we setlle for a compromise and hope that death, destruction and on-going grief will give way to peace, stability and a chance for a brighter future. I used to think that paramilitaries were cowardly in their acts. The perpetrators of this act have gone another step lower into the abyss of evil that is their domain. If they are caught, death would be too good for them. I hope they burn in hell.
B Irish, USA
I am a resident of Omagh, who has been working in Belfast as a doctor for the last 3 years. I cannot comprehend or come to terms with what has happened to my town and my people. I am sickened by the people who have done this. I cannot comprehend what they hoped to achieve by this. It's sick, cowardly and pointless. Why can't they just leave us all alone to get on with our lives? God knows, we have enough trials without this. This has hurt me so much as an Omagh person. I must say, I have been frequently in tears as I listen to, and watch what has happened. I already know of one person who has been killed, and God knows who else I haven't heard of yet. Where will it all end?
Dr. Martin Kelly, Glengormley
I live in the beautiful town of Omagh and have done for 47 years. Why have we been singled out to receive such a malicious and cowardly act? This is the saddest place on the planet tonight. Why? What cause justifies the taking of a life never mind the number taken in this town? I know that friends of mine have been killed and mutilated. I feel helpless, guilty and angry. I will pray for everyone involved.
Joe Cummings. A psychiatric nurse
I would first of all like to extend my sympathies to the people close to those dead and injured by Saturday's bomb.
I have just listened to the DUP and Robert McCartney on Sky TV denigrating Dr Mowlam and the British Government. If anyone ensures that the bombers aims are successful it will be these pompous posturing politicians.
Mary, Northern Ireland
The act of terrorism in Ireland and the world is unnecessary. Freedom and peace have the same meaning. As one of the ancestors of Kitty O'Shea I am heart broken over this latest tragedy as well as every act of murder in the land of my ancestors. I have been fortunate to travel to Ireland both north and south. I hope one day to travel there again and perhaps settle there. The words freedom and peace do not mean murder; the two are never in harmony with murder. I hope that for the sake of past and future generations of the Irish people, the public will work towards peace and freedom with hearts of love and hands of kindness, not bitter words and hearts of stone. I pray that the public will keep an open heart to the politician and that the politicians will return the people of Ireland. Terrorism is a human virus and can be cured by concerned people with a true committed heart for peace and by those people who believe that human life, no matter how different it appears, is sacred and must be cherished and treated always with kindness and respect even if at times we must forgive the past and step aside for the moment. With deep humility and love for all of you I ask please stop fighting stop the blood shed and let your hearts work together for freedom and peace. To the politicians: take your ties off roll up your sleeves and go to the places where people gather and work with them. Your titles as politicians have made you appear to be a nation unto yourselves . Remember you work for the people, and you once came from the people. I hold you all close in my heart.
MJ Donais, United States ancestor of Kitty O'Shea
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