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Thursday, 6 December, 2001, 22:00 GMT
Political fallout after Omagh revelations
Omagh bombing
Omagh devastation followed misleading bomb warnings
There has been mixed political reaction to the revelations contained in the ombudsman's report on police handling of warnings about the Omagh bomb.

Nationalists have been critical of the police handling of warnings allegedly passed on before the 1998 Real IRA bomb which killed 29 people in the County Tyrone town.

However, unionists have accused Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan of an unfair attack on the police which could divert attentions away from the hunt for the bombers.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid said he would not comment until he had seen the final version of the report. Leaks, he said, were never helpful and usually malicious.

John Reid:
John Reid: "Nothing should detract from evil actions of bombers"

But he added: "There is one point which everyone should bear in mind. Whether or not there are lessons to be learnt in this case - and with hindsight, there will always be arguments about specifics - nothing should every distract our attention from the suffering caused to the victims and their families by the evil people who planted the bomb in Omagh."

Sinn Fein condemned the contents of the draft report.

The party's Pat Doherty said the Northern Ireland chief constable's position was now untenable.

Pat Doherty:
Pat Doherty: "Special Branch must now be disbanded"
"Special Branch must now be disbanded and those who failed to act on this information from the chief constable down should now be removed from the policing structures immediately," he said.

However, the Democratic Unionist Party's Sammy Wilson said the leaked report has drawn attention away from the bombers.

Mr Wilson, a member of the new Policing Board which oversees the Police Service, accused the ombudsman of using the Omagh tragedy to pursue an anti-police agenda.

Sammy Wilson: Accusations of
Sammy Wilson: Accusations of "anti-police bias"
He said the attack on the police and Special Branch "provides further confirmation of the anti-police bias which rests within the organisation".

Mr Wilson accused Mrs O'Loan of moving the focus of the Omagh atrocity "away from the psychotic killers and turning the blame on the police".

He added: "The police are not to blame for the death and suffering which descended on Omagh. The killers who have been publicly named and are still at large laughing at the inability of the law enforcers to deal with them are.

"As the Ombudsman seeks to shift the blame to the police they must be laughing even harder."

BBC NI chief security correspondent Brian Rowan
"The report does not go so far as to say the bombing could have been prevented"

The Troubles
Understanding Northern Ireland
See also:

06 Dec 01 | Northern Ireland
Omagh families' shock at revelations
06 Dec 01 | Northern Ireland
Police critical of Omagh draft report
06 Dec 01 | Northern Ireland
The day that changed Omagh
05 Dec 01 | Northern Ireland
Government 'selective on terrorism'
15 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
Omagh bomb victims remembered
16 Aug 99 | UK
The day the clocks stopped
17 Aug 98 | Northern Ireland
Names of those who died
16 Aug 98 | Latest News
Omagh bombing kills 28
17 Aug 98 | Northern Ireland
Scenes from the blast
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