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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 12 December, 2001, 18:01 GMT
Families shocked at Omagh report
The Omagh bomb killed 29 people
The police deny they were warned about Omagh
Families of the victims of the Omagh bomb have been shocked by the findings of the report into the police investigation of disaster.

The Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, Nuala O'Loan, said a different police response to a warning received before the bombing may have deterred the bombers.

She is now calling for an officer from outside the province to take over the Omagh bomb investigation.


It seems to me that a lot of stones have been left unturned

Kevin Skelton
Relatives of victims were shown a summary version of the report on Wednesday.

Kevin Skelton's wife Philomena was one of 29 people who died in the town centre bombing carried out by the Real IRA on 15 August 1998, and says he feels shocked and betrayed.

"After the bomb at Omagh, we were told by Tony Blair and the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, that no stone would be left unturned," he said.

"It seems to me that a lot of stones have been left unturned."

'Dereliction of duty'

Mr Skelton doubted whether the information could have averted the attack.

While he hoped that there would never be another atrocity like the Omagh bombing, he hoped that better systems would be in place should dissidents plan another attack.

Clearly shaken by the report's findings, he told BBC News Online: "It was not easy to listen to some of the things in the meeting."

Nuala O'Loan: Police Ombudsman
Nuala O'Loan: Police Ombudsman
Asked if the inquiry was prolonging the agony, he said: "At the end of the day, we want the truth and we won't be satisfied until we get the truth. In my view that means a full public inquiry."

But he does not think that the report should distract attention from the hunt for the bombers: "The authorities didn't plant the bomb, the Real IRA planted the bomb."

Lawrence Rush, who lost his wife Elizabeth in the blast, said he thought the attack could have been prevented.


I don't think the police are to blame at all - I don't think it was the police's fault either at the top or the bottom level

Omagh resident

"There's no reason why Omagh should have happened - the police have been in dereliction of their duty."

He also agreed with a recommendation that Special Branch should be incorporated into the main service: "Special Branch are a law unto themselves and it's time this was rooted out."

As news of the report's conclusions filtered out, residents discussed the findings on the spot where the bomb exploded more than three years ago.

One man said: "I don't think the police are to blame at all. I don't think it was the police's fault either at the top or the bottom level.

In limbo

"The only way to save those lives is if the IRA hadn't put the bomb there in the first place."

Patricia Sowerby said the town was "still in limbo".

"Nothing's really been sorted out - and will the report actually make a difference to that?"

For residents in the town, life must go on, but it is not easy with a daily reminder on their doorstep.

Marion Radford, whose son Alan was 16 when he died in the blast, said this year had been more difficult than any since the tragedy.

"It's hard. You don't know who to trust any more. The police should have been protecting us.

"Our loved ones are gone and nothing will bring them back. We've a right to know the truth."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Annita McVeigh
speaks to the father of one of the bombing's victims, Michael Gallagher

In DepthIN DEPTH
The Troubles
Understanding Northern Ireland
Click here for the full special report

Ombudsman report

Bomb trial verdict

Archive - the blast:

PANORAMA
See also:

12 Dec 01 | N Ireland
07 Dec 01 | N Ireland
06 Dec 01 | N Ireland
07 Dec 01 | N Ireland
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