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Sunday, 26 November, 2000, 13:28 GMT
Omagh families' vigil at 'fundraiser'
protesters with placard
Protesters carried photographs of their loved ones
Families of victims of the Omagh bomb have staged a protest outside what they say was a fundraising meeting by a group they regard as the Real IRA's political wing.

About a dozen relatives from the Omagh Victims' Legal Action Group flew in from Northern Ireland to hold a "peaceful vigil" at a London pub where a branch of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement was holding a social function.

The group had publicised the event on its website as a "function in aid of republican prisoners and their dependants".

The dissident republican Real IRA was responsible for the Omagh bombing in August 1998 which killed 29 people and injured more than 200 others.

I believe the 32 County Sovereignty Movement has an agenda to keep the bodybag in Irish politics

Michael Gallagher
It was the worst single atrocity in 30 years of violence.

Michael Gallagher, whose 21-year-old son Adrian died in the Omagh bombing, said money raised could end up buying bullets and semtex.

"I believe the 32 County Sovereignty Movement has an agenda to keep the bodybag in Irish politics," he said.

Victor Barker, who lost his 12-year-old son James, said: "We don't think events like this should be going on for people who use violence and intimidation to achieve their objectives."

The relatives lit candles outside the Cock Tavern in Euston, in memory of their loved ones.

They then entered the pub where the fundraising event was taking place in an upstairs room, carrying placards and photographs of their loved ones.

These people killed my beautiful boy

Donna-Maria Barker
Mr Barker's wife Donna-Maria addressed the people in the bar.

"These people killed my beautiful boy," she said.

The families hoped their actions would persuade more witnesses to overcome "loyalty or fear" and come forward to add crucial evidence to the criminal investigation of the bombing.

Their solicitor, Jason McCue, said they also hoped the protest would put more pressure on the US Government to include the Real IRA on its list of "foreign terrorist organisations".

Proposed in a joint statement from the Irish and British governments on Friday, this would ban donations and fundraising for the Real IRA in the US.

Police officers arrived at the pub at about 2015 GMT and senior officers discussed the situation with the licensee, but there were no arrests.

Omagh councillor Francis Mackey, of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, was asked to condemn the bombing by protestors as he left an upstairs room in the pub.

He said that he was "committed to finding a peaceful solution to the Troubles".

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See also:

25 Nov 00 | Northern Ireland
USA asked to 'ban' Real IRA
03 Oct 00 | Northern Ireland
Real IRA 'fully to blame' for Omagh
15 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
Omagh bomb victims remembered
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