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Sunday, 9 December, 2001, 18:07 GMT
Fresh row over Omagh bomb report
Omagh bombing
Omagh devastation followed misleading bomb warnings
The chairman of the Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, has been criticised for attacking Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan.

Jimmy Spratt said the Ombudsman should resign following the leaking of her draft report into the Omagh bombing.

The Ombudsman's draft report found the RUC's special branch was warned about an attack planned for 15 August 1998 - but the information was not passed to police officers on the ground.

Twenty-nine people died in Omagh on that date in a Real IRA car bomb.

Following the leaked report, Mr Spratt said Mrs O'Loan should "consider her position".


If it had been a police that had been lost then Mrs O'Loan would be investigating that

Jimmy Spratt, Police Federation

But a former chairman of the former Police Authority, David Cook, said Mr Spratt should be the one to go.

However, Mr Spratt, said he was just doing his job.

"If it had been a police that had been lost then Mrs O'Loan would be investigating that," he said.

"So I don't see why she should not be investigating this leaked document."

'Seek a transfer'

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid has insisted there was no warning of a bomb in Omagh prior to the explosion in the County Tyrone town.

His comments came as the senior police officer on duty on the day of the bombing told relatives of the victims he would step down if they no longer had confidence in him.

Superintendent James Baxter said he was willing to seek a transfer to another area.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland has confirmed the officer met the families on Friday after extracts of the controversial Police Ombudsman's report were leaked to the media.


There was no such warning, nor does the report say it is likely that the bomb could have been averted

John Reid, Secretary of State

Dr Reid refused to discuss the report's content, but said: "The only matter of substance I am prepared to address is the accusation that there was a warning of a bomb in Omagh.

"There was no such warning, nor does the report - unfinished as it is - say that it is likely that the bomb could have been averted on the information received. There is no such comment."

Despite Superintendent Baxter's offer to move to another area, it is understood none of those present at his meeting with the families wanted him to leave.

Outside team

The Police Ombudsman's office has said the controversial report on the Omagh bombing will be released on Wednesday, despite police calls for more time.

Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan has said he is considering calling in an outside team to carry out a police investigation.

John Reid: Warning over dissident attacks
John Reid: Warning over dissident attacks

But the nationalist SDLP has said the next move is up to the Policing Board, not the chief constable.

Meanwhile, Dr Reid has warned of the danger of a terrorist attack by dissident republicans over the Christmas period.

"We should always bear in mind who are the guilty parties here - the Real IRA, their callousness, their preparedness to murder and cause mayhem," he said.

"I think we would all be as well to be vigilant in the run-up to Christmas.

"It is times like that that they want to use the maximum opportunity, when people are out in large numbers."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Omagh relative Michael Gallagher:
"Certainly no-one said they wanted his resignation"

In DepthIN DEPTH
The Troubles
Understanding Northern Ireland
See also:

08 Dec 01 | N Ireland
07 Dec 01 | N Ireland
06 Dec 01 | N Ireland
06 Dec 01 | N Ireland
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